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Cornell University Library 
HX86 .T89 1897 

Instead o' ? book 


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The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 




By a Man Too Busy to Write One 





Editor of Liberty 

Liberty, Not the Daughter, but the Mother of Order. — Proudhon 



BENJ. R. TUCKER, Publisher 


Foy always in thine eyes^ O Liberty ! 

Shines that high light whereby the world is saved; 

And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee. 

John Hay. 

In abolishing rent and interest^ the last vestiges of old-time slavery ^ the Revolu- 
tion at one stroke the sword o/ the executioner^ the seal 0/ the magistrate,, 
the club 0/ the policeman^ the gauge 0/ the exciseman^ the erasing-kni/e 0/ the 
department clerks all those insignia of Politics^ which young Liberty grinds beneath 

kar heel* 


a:o tb.e iHicmorg 


My Old Friend and Master 


Whose Teachings were My First Source of Light 
I Gratefully Dedicate this Volume 



Preface, ix 

State Socialism and Anarchism : How Far They Agree and 

Wherein They Differ, i 

The Individual, Society, and the State, ig 

The Relation of the State to the Individual 21 

Contract or Organism, What's That to Us ? . . . .31 

The Nature of the State, 34 

A Misinterpretation of Anarchism, 38 

Mr. Levy's Maximum, 40 

Resistance to Taxation 43 

A Puppet for a God, . . ...... 46 

Mr. Perrine's Difficulties, . 50 

Where We Stand, . . . 52 

Tu-Whit ! Tu-Whoo ! . . 55 

Rights and Duties Under Anarchy, 58 

More Questions, .61 

Mr. Blodgett's Final Question, 62 

Trying to Be and Not to Be, 63 

My Explanation, 65 

A Plea for Non-Resistance' 67 

Liberty and Aggression, ........ 72 

Rule or Resistance — Which ? 75 

The Advisability of Violence 78 

Mr. Pentecost an Abettor of Government, . . . . .81 

The Philosopher of the Disembodied, 82 

The Woes of an Anarchist, 89 

The Moral of Mr. Donisthorpe's Woes, 98 

L'Etat est Mort ; Vive I'^tat ! 99 

Voluntary Co-operatioti, 1O3 

L'Etat, C'est I'Ennemi, 105 

A Libertarian's Pet Despotisms, 115 

Defensive Despotism, 116 

Still in the Procrustean Bed, 116 

Pinney Struggling with Procrustes, 118 

A Back Town Heard From, 120 

In Form a Reply, In Reality a Surrender 122 

' Fool Voters and Fool Editors, 125 

Ergo and Presto, 126 


VI Contents. 


The Right of Ownership .129 

Individual Sovereignty Our Goal, . . . .. . . 131 

New Abolition and Its Nine Demands, 133 

Compulsory Education Not Anarchistic, 134 

Relations Between Parents and Children 136 

Compulsory Education and Anarchism, 143 

Children Under Anarchy, '44 

Not a Decree, but a Prophecy, ....... 146 

Anarchy and Rape, i49 

An Unfortunate Analogy, 150 

The Boycott and Its Limit, 152 

A Case Where Discussion Convinced, I53 

A Spirit More Evil Than Alcohol I54 

A Word About Capital Punishment, 156 

No Place for a Promise, ........ I57 

On Picket Duty, 158 

Money and Interest, ......... i75 

"Who is the Somebody ?" i77 

Reform Made Ridiculous, I79 

A Defence of Capital, 180 

"The Position of William," 181 

Capital's Claim to Increase, . . . . . . .183 

A Baseless Charge, . . 186 

Another Answer to Mr. Babcock, i8g 

Attention, " Apex !" 189 

Usury, . 190 

Apex or Basis, 191 

"The Position of William," J99 

Economic Hodge-Podge, 200 

An Unwarranted Question, ....... 208 

An Alleged Flaw in Anarchy, 209 

Shall the Transfer Papers be Taxed ? 212 

Money and Capital, ......... 215 

To-day's View of Interest, . . . . . . . . 217 

To-day's Excellent Fooling 220 

Government and Value, ........ 222 

The Power of Government Over Values, 223 

Free Trade in Banking, ........ 227 

Currency and Government, 235 

The Equalization of Wage and Product, ..... 237 

A False Idea of Freedom, 245 

Monopoly, Communism, and Liberty, ..... 246 

Pinney His Own Procrustes, 248 

Ten Questions Briefly Answered, 252 

A Standard of Value a Necessity, 253 

A Necessity or a Delusion — Which ? 256 

Anarchy's New Ally, 259 

Economic Superstition, ........ 260 

A Book That is Not Milk for Babes, 262 

State Banking Versus Mutual Banking, ..... 265 

Mr. Bilgram's Rejoinder, . 268 

Free Money, 269 

Free Money First 273 

StoD the Main Leak First, 274 



An Indispensable Accident 276 

Leland Stanford's Land Bank, ....... 278 

Mutualism in the Service of Capital 281 

Edward Atkinson's Evolution, 282 

A Greenbacker in a Corner 284 

Free Money and the Cost Principle, 286 

Proudhon's Bank, . . . . . . • . . . 287 

Why Wages Should Absorb Profits, 289 

A Great Idea Perverted 290 

On Picket Duty, 292 

Lanb and Rent, 297 

"The Land for the People," ....... 299 

Basic Principles of Economics : Rent, . . . • . 300 

Rent : Parting Words, . . 304 

Property Under Anarchism, ....... 309 

Mere Land No Saviour for Labor, 313 

Henry George's " Secondary Factors," 314 

The State Socialists and Henry George 315 

Liberty and the George Theory, 316 

A Criticism That Does Not Apply 322 

Land Occupancy and Its Conditions, 324 

Competitive Protection, 326 

Protection, and Its Relation to Rent, 328 

Liberty and Land, 333 

Rent, and Its Collection by Force, 337 

The Distribution of Rent, 339 

Economic Rent, 343 

Liberty and Property, . / 348 

Going to Pieces on the Rocks, 351 

"Simplifying Government," 352 

On Picket Duty 353 

Socialism, 359 

'Socialism : What It Is, ....... . 361 

Armies That Overlap, 363 

Socialism and the Lexicographers 365 

The Sin of Herbert Spencer, 370 

Will Professor Sumner Choose? 371 

After Freiheit, Der Socialist, . 375 

State Socialism and Liberty 377 

On Picket Duty 378 

Communism, 381 

General Walker and the Anarchists 383 

Herr Most on Libertas, 393 

Still Avoiding the Issue, 397 

Herr Most Distilled and Consumed, . . . . . . 401 

Should Labor be Paid or Not ? 403 

Does Competition Mean War.? 404 

Competition and Monopoly Confounded, 406 

On Picket Duty, 407 

Methods ■ 409 

The Power of Passive Resistance 411 

The Irish Situation in 1881 414 

The Method of Anarchy, 415 

Theoretical Methods, 417 



A Seed Planted, , . . 420 

The " Home Guard " Heard From 421 

Colonization, 423 

Labor's New Fetich, 424 

Mr. Pentecost's Belief in the Ballot, 426 

A Principle of Social Therapeutics, 427 

The Morality 6f Terrorism, 428 

The Beast of Communism, 429 

Time Will Tell, . .434 

The Facts Coming to Light, .,...•. 435 

Liberty and Violence, •439 

Convicted by a Packed Jury, 442 

Why Expect Justice from the State ? 444 

The Lesson of the Hour 446 

Convicted for Their Opinions 447 

To the Breach, Comrades ! 448 

On Picket Duty, 449 

Miscellaneous, .451 

The Lesson of Homestead 453 

Save Labor from Its Friends 455 

Is Frick a Soldier of Liberty ? 457 

Shall Strikers be Court-Martialled? 459 

Census-Taking Fatal to Monopoly, ...... 461 

Anarchy Necessarily Atheistic, 463 

A Fable for Malthusians 465' 

Auberon Herbert and His Work, 469 

Solutions of the Labor Problem, 472 

Karl Marx as Friend and Foe, ... ... 476 

Do the Knights of Labor Love Liberty ? 480 

Play-House Philanthropy, ........ 4S3 

Beware of Batterson ! 487 

A Gratifying Discovery, ........ 489 

Cases of Lamentable Longevity, . . . . . . "490 

Spooner Memorial Resolutions, 491 

On Picket Duty 493 

Index, 497 


"iNSTEAEk of a b(3ok !" I hear the reader exclaim, as he picks up this 
volume and glances at its title ; " why, it is a book." To all appearance, 
yes ; essentially, no. It is, to be sure, an assemblage within a cover of 
printed sheets consecutively numbered ; but this alone does not constitute 
a book. A book, properly speaking, is first of all a thing of unity and 
symmetry, of order and finish ; it is a literary structure, each part of which 
is subordinated to the whole and created for it. To satisfy such a standard 
this volume does not pretend ; it is not a structure, but an afterthougnt, 
a more or less coherent arrangement, each part of which was created 
almost without reference to any other. Yet not quite so, after all ; otner- 
wise even the smallest degree of coherence were scarcely possible. 

The facts are these. In August, 1881, I started in Boston, in a very 
quiet way, a little fortnightly journal called Liberty. Its purpose was to 
contribute to the solution of social problems by carrying to a logical con- 
clusion the battle, against authority, — to aid in what Proudhon had called 
"the dissolution of government in the economic organism." Beyond the 
opportunity of thus contributing my mite I looked for little from my ex- 
periment. But, almost before I knew it, the tiny paper had begun to 
exert an influence of which I had not dreamed. It went the wide world over. 
In nearly every important city, and in many a country town, it found 
some mind ripe for its reception. Each of these minds became a centre of 
influence, and in considerably less than a year a specific movement had 
sprung into existence, under Proudhon's happily chosen name. Anarchism, 
of which Liberty was generally recognized as the organ. Since that time, 
through varying fortunes, the paper has gone on, with slow but steady 
growth, doing its quiet work. Books inspired by it, and other journals 
which it called into being, have made their appearance, not only in various 
parts of the United States, but in England, France, Germany, and at the 
antipodes. Anarchism is now one of the forces of the world. But its 
literature, voluminous as it already is, lacks a systematic text-book. I 
have often been urged to attempt the task of writing one. Thus far, 


X pfefiFACfi. 

however, I have been too busy, and there is no prospect that I shall evet 
be less so. Pending the arrival of the man having the requisite time, 
means, and ability for the production of the desired book, it has been de- 
termined to put forth, as a sort of makeshift, this partial collection of my 
writings for Liberty, giving them, by an attempt at classification, some 
semblance of system ; the thought being that, if these v\rritings, scattered 
in bits here, there, and everywhere, have already influenced so many 
minds, they ought in a compact and cumulative form to influence very 
many more. 

The volume opens with a paper on " State Socialism and Anarchism," 
which covers in a summary way nearly the entire scope of the work. 
Following this is the main section, "The Individual, Society, and the 
State," dealing with the fundamental principles of human association. In 
the third and fourth sections application of these principles is made to the 
two great economic factors, money and land. Iii these Uwo sections, 
moreover, as well as in the fifth and sixth, the various authoritarian social 
solutions which go counter to these principles are dealt with, — namely, 
Greenbackism, the Single Tax, State Socialism, and so-called " Com- 
munistic Anarchism." The seventh section treats of the methods by 
which these principles can be realized ; and in the eighth are grouped nu- 
merous articles scarcely within the scheme of classification, but which it 
has seemed best for various reasons to preserve. For the elaborate index 
to the whole the readers are indebted to my friends Francis D. Tandy and 
Henry Cohen, of Denver, Colo. 

The matter in this volume is largely controversial. This has frequently 
necessitated the reproduction of other articles than the author's (distin- 
guished by a different type), in order to make the author's intelligible. A 
volume thus made must be characterized by many faults, both of style 
and substance. I am too busy, not only to write a book, but to satisfac- 
torily revise this substitute. With but few and slight exceptions, the 
articles stand as originally written. Much they contain that is personal 
and irrelevant, and that would not have found its way into a book spe- 
cially prepared. It would be strange, too, if in writings covering a period 
of twelve years there were not some inconsistencies, especially in the 
terminology and form of expression. For such, if any there be, and for 
all minor weaknesses, I crave, because of the circumstances, a measure of 
indulgence from the critic. But, on the other hand, I challenge the most 
searching examination of the central positions taken. Undamaged by 
the constant fire of twelve years of controversy, they are proof, in my 
judgment, against the heaviest guns. Apologizing, therefore, for their 
form only, and full of faith in their power, I offer these pages to the 


B."R. T. 





Probably no agitation has ever attained the magnitude, 
either in the number of its recruits or the area of its influ- 
ence, which has been attained by Modern Socialism, and at 
the same time been so little understood and so misunderstood, 
not only by the hostile and the indifferent, but by the friendly, 
and even by the great mass of its adherents themselves. This 
unfortunate and highly dangerous state of things is due partly 
to the fact that the human relationships which this move- 
ment — if anything so chaotic can be called a movement — aims 
to transform, involve no special class or classes, but literally all 
mankind; partly to the fact that these relationships are infi- 
nitely more varied and complex in their nature than those 
with which any special reform has ever been called upon to- 

* In the summer of 1886, shortly after the bomb-throwing at Chicago, 
the author of this volume received an invitation from the editor of the 
North American Review to furjjish him a paper on Anarchism. In re- 
sponse the above article was sent him. A few days later the author re- 
ceived a letter announcing the acceptance of his paper, tfie editor volun- 
teering the declaration that it was the ablest article that he had received 
during his editorship of the Review. The next number of the Review bore 
the announcement, on the second page of its cover, that the article (giving 
its title and the name of the author) would appear at an early date. 
Month after month went by, and the article did not appear. Repeated 
letters of inquiry failed to bring any explanation. Finally, after nearly a 
year had elapsed, the author wrote to the editor that he had prepared the 
article, not to be pigeon-holed, but to be printed, and that he wished the 
matter to be acted upon immediately. In reply he received his manuscript 
and a check for seventy-five dollars. Thereupon he made a few slight 
changes in the article and delivered it on several occasions as a lecture, after 
which it was printed in Liberty of March 10, 1888. 


deal; and partly to the fact that the great moulding forces of 
society, the channels of information and enlightenment, are 
well-nigh exclusively under the control of those whose im- 
mediate pecuniary interests are antagonistic to the bottom 
claim of Socialism that labor should be put in possession of 
its own. 

Almost the only persons who may be said to comprehend 
even approximately the significance, principles, and purposes 
of Socialism are the chief leaders of the extreme wings of the. 
Socialistic forces, and perhaps a few of the money kings them-, 
selves. It is a subject of which it has lately become quite ■ 
the fashion for preacher, professor, and penny-a-liner to treat, 
and, for the most part, woful work they have made with it, 
exciting the derision and pity of those competent to judge. 
That those prominent in the intermediate Socialistic divisions 
do not fully understand what they are about is evident from 
the positions they occupy. If they did ; if they were consist- 
ent, logical thinkers ; if they were what the French call conse- 
quent men, — their reasoning faculties would long since have 
driven them to one extreme or the other. 

For it is a curious fact that the two extremes of the vast 
army now under consideration, though united, as has been 
hinted above, by the common claim that labor shall be put in 
possession of its own, are more diametrically opposed to each 
other in their fundamental principles of social action and their 
methods of reaching the ends aimed at than either is to their 
common enemy, the existing society. They are based on two 
principles the history of whose conflict is almost equivalent to 
the history of the world since man came into it; and all inter- 
mediate parties, including that of the upholders of the exist- 
ing society, are based upon a compromise between them. It 
is clear, then, that any intelligent, deep-rooted opposition to 
the prevailing order of things nftist come from one or the 
other of these extremes, for anything from any other source, 
far from being revolutionary in character, could be only in the 
nature of such superficial modification as would be utterly 
unable to concentrate upon itself the degree of attention and 
interest now bestowed upon Modern Socialism. 

The two principles referred to are Authority and Liberty, 
and the names of the two schools of Socialistic thought which 
fully and unreservedly represent one or the other of them are, 
respectively. State Socialism and Anarchism. Whoso knows 
what these two schools want and how they propose to get it 
understands the Socialistic movement. For, just as it has 
been said that there is no half-way house between Rome and 


Reason, so it may be said that there is no half-way house be- 
tween State Socialism and Anarchism. There are, in fact, 
two currents steadily flowing from the centre of the Socialistic 
forces which are concentrating them on the left and on the 
right; and, if Socialism is to prevail, it is among the possibili- 
ties that, after this movement of separation has been com- 
pleted and the existing order has been crushed out between 
the two camps, the ultimate and bitterer conflict will be still 
to come. In that case all the eight-hour men, all the trades- 
unionists, all the Knights of Labor, all the land nationalization- 
ists, all the greenbackers, and, in short, all the members of the 
thousand and one different battalions belonging to the great 
army of Labor, will have deserted their old posts, and, these 
being arrayed on the ojie side and the other, the great battle 
will begin. What a final victory for the State Socialists will 
mean, and what a final victory for the Anarchists will mean, 
it is the purpose of this paper to briefly state. 

To do this intelligently, however, I must first describe the 
ground common to both, the features that make Socialists of 
each of them. 

The econoinic principles of Modern Socialism are a logical 
deduction from the principle laid down by Adam Smith in 
the early chapters of his " Wealth of Nations," — namely, that 
labor is the true measure of price. But Adam Smith, after 
stating this principle most clearly and concisely, immediately 
abandoned all further consideration of it to devote himself to 
showing what actually does measure price, and how, therefore, 
wealth is at present distributed. Since his day nearly all the 
political economists have followed his example by confining 
their function to the description of society as it is, in its in- 
dustrial and commercial phases. Socialism, on the contrary, 
extends its function to the description of society as it should 
be, and the discovery of the means of making it what it 
should be. Half a century or more after Smith enunciated 
the principle above stated, Socialism picked it up where he 
had dropped it, and, in following it to its logical conclusions, 
made it the basis of a new economic philosophy. 

This seems to have been done independently by three differ- 
ent men, of three different nationalities, in three different 
languages: Josiah Warren, an American; Pierre J. Proudhon, a 
Frenchman; Karl Marx, a German Jew. That Warren and 
Proudhon arrived at their conclusio'hs singly and unaided is 
certain; but whether Marx was not largely indebted to Prou- 
dhon for his economic ideas is questionable. However this may 
be, Marx's presentation of the ideas was in so many respects 


peculiarly his own that he is fairly entitled to the credit of 
originality. That the work of this interesting trio should have 
been done so nearly simultaneously would seem to indicate 
that Socialism was in the air, and that the time was ripe and 
the conditions favorable for the appearance of this new school 
of thought. So far as priority of time is concerned, the credit 
seems to belong to Warren, the American, — a fact which 
should be noted by the stump orators who are so fond of de- 
claiming against Socialism as an imported article. , Of the 
purest revolutionary blood, too, this Warren, for he descends 
from the Warren who fell at Bunker Hill. 

From Smith's principle that labor is the true measure of 
price — or, as Warren phrased it, that cost is the proper limit of 
price — these three men made the following deductions : that 
fhe natural wage of labor is its product; that this wage, or 
product, is the only just source of income (leaving out, of 
course, gift, inheritance, etc.); that all who derive income from 
any other source abstract it directly or indirectly from the 
natural and just wage of labor; that this abstracting process 
generally takes one of three forms, — interest, rent, and profit; 
that these three constitute the trinity of usury, and are simply 
different methods of levying tribute for the use of capital; that, 
capital being simply stored-up labor which has already received 
its pay in full, its use ought to be gratuitous, on the principle 
that labor is the only basis of price; that the lender of capital 
is entitled to its return intact, and nothing more; that the only 
reason why the banker, the stockholder, the landlord, the man- 
ufacturer, and the merchant are able to exact usury from 
labor lies in the fact that they are backed by legal privilege, or 
monopoly; and that the only way to secure to labor the enjoy- ' 
ment of its entire product, or natural wage, is to strike down 

^ It must not be inferred that either Warren, Proudhon, or 
Marx used exactly this phraseology, or followed exactly this 
line of thought, but it indicates definitely enough the funda- 
mental ground taken by all three, and their substantial thought 
up to the limit to which they went in common. And, lest I may 
be accused of stating the positions and arguments of these 
men incorrectly, it may be well to say in advance that I have 
viewed them broadly, and that, for the purpose of sharp, vivid, 
and emphatic comparison and contrast, I have taken consider- 
able liberty with their thought by rearranging it in an order, 
and often in a phraseology, of my own, but, I am satisfied, 
without, in so doing, misrepresenting them in any essentia,! 


It was at this point — the' necessity of striking down monop- 
oly — that came the parting of their ways. Here 'the road 
forked. They found that they must turn either to the right 
or to the left, — follow either the path of Authority or the path 
of Liberty. Marx went one way; Warren and Proudhon the 
other. Thus were born State Socialism and Anarchism. 

First, then. State Socialism, which may be described as the 
doctrine that all the affairs of men should be managed by the 
government, regardless of individual choice. 
^ Marx, its founder, concluded that the only way to abolish 
the class monopolies was to centralize and consolidate all in- 
dustrial and commercial interests, all productive and distribu- 
tive agencies, in one vast monopoly in the hands of the State. 
The government must become banker, manufacturer, farmer, 
carrier, and merchant, and in these capacities must suffer no 
competition. Land, tools, and all instruments of production 
must be wrested from individual hands, and made the property 
of the collectivity. To the individual can belong only the 
products to be consumed, not the means of producing them. 
A man may own his clothes and his food, but not the sewing- 
machine which makes his shirts or the spade which digs his 
potatoes. Product and capital are essentially different things; 
the former belongs to individuals, the latter to society. Society 
must seize the capital which belongs to it, by the ballot if it 
can, by revolution if it must. Once in possession of it, it must 
administer it on the majority principle, through its organ, the 
State, utilize it in production and distribution, fix all prices by 
the amount of labor involved, and employ the whole people in 
its workshops, farms, stores, etc. The nation must be trans- 
formed into a vast bureaucracy, and every individual into a State 
official. Everything must be done on the cost principle, the 
people having no motive to make a profit out of themselves. 
Individuals not being allowed to own capital, no one can em- 
ploy another, or even himself. Every man wiirbe a wage-re- 
ceiver, and the State the only wage-payer. He who will not 
work for the State must starve, or, more likely, go to prison. 
All freedom of trade must disappear. Competition must be 
utterly wiped out. All industrial and commercial activity must 
be centred in one vast, enormous, all-inClusive monopoly. 
The remedy for monopolies is monopoly, y 

Such is the economic programme of State Socialism as 
adopted from Karl Marx. The history of its growth and 
progress cannot be told here. In this country the parties that 
uphold it are known as the Socialistic Labor Party, which pre- 
tends to follow Karl Marx ; the Nationalists, who follow Kari 


Marx filtered through Edward Bellamy ; and the Christian 
Socialists, who follow Karl Marx filtered through Jesus Christ. 

What other applications this principle of Authority, once 
adopted in the economic sphere, will develop is very evident. 
It means the absolute control by the majority of all individual 
conduct. The right of such control is already admitted by the 
State Socialists, though they maintain that, as a matter of fact, 
the individual would be allowed a much larger liberty than he 
now enjoys. But he would only be allowed it ; he could not 
claim it as his own. There would be no foundation of society 
upon a guaranteed equaUty of the largest possible liberty. 
Such liberty as might exist would exist by sufferance and 
could be taken away at any moment. Constitutional guaran- 
tees would be of no avail. There would be but one article in 
the constitution of a State Socialistic country : " The right of 
the majority is absolute." 

The claim of the State Socialists, however, that this right 
would not be exercised in matters pertaining to the individual 
in the more intimate and private relations of his life is not 
borne out by the history of governments. It has ever been the 
tendency of power to add to itself, to enlarge its sphere, to en- 
croach beyond the limits set for it ; and where the habit of 
resisting such encroachment is not fostered, and the individual 
is not taught to be jealous of his rights, individuality gradually 
disappears and the government or State becomes the all-in-all. 
Control naturally accompanies responsibility. Under the sys- 
tem of State Socialism, therefore, which holds the commu- 
nity responsible for the health, wealth, and wisdom of the 
individual, it is evident that the community, through its major- 
ity expression, will insist more and more on prescribing the 
conditions of health, wealth, and wisdom, thus impairing and 
finally destroying individual independence and with it all sense 
of individual responsibility. 

Whatever, then, the State Socialists may claim or disclaim, 
their system, if adopted, is doomed to end in a State religion, 
to the expense of which all must contribute and at the altar of 
which all must kneel ; a State school of medicine, by whose 
practitioners the sick must invariably be treated ; a State system 
of hygiene, prescribing what all must and must not eat, drink, 
wear, and do ; a State code of morals, which will not content 
itself with punishing crime, but will prohibit what the major- 
ity decide to be vice ; a State system of instruction, which will 
do away with all private schools, academies, and colleges ; a 
State nursery, in which all children must be brought up in 
common at the public expense; and, finally, a State family, 


with an attempt at stirpiculture, or scientific breeding, in 
which no man and woman will be allowed to have children if 
the State prohibits them and no man and woman can refuse 
to have children if the State orders them. Thus will Author- 
ity achieve its acme and Monopoly be carried to its highest 

Such is the ideal of the logical State Socialist, such the 
goal which lies at the end of the road that Karl Marx took. 
Let us now follow the fortunes of Warren and Proudhon, who 
took the other road, — the road of Liberty. 

This brings us to Anarchism, which may be described as 
( the doctrine that all the affairs of -men should be managed by indi- 
viduals or voluntary associations, and that the State should be 
\ abolished. 

When Warren and Proudhon, in prosecuting their search for 
justice to labor, came face to face with the obstacle of class 
monopolies, they saw that these monopolies rested upon Au- 
thority, and concluded that the thing to be done was, not 
to strengthen this Authority and thus make monopoly uni- 
versal, but to utterly uproot Authority and give full sway to 
the opposite principle. Liberty, by making competition, the 
antithesis of monopoly, universal. They saw in competition 
the great leveller of prices to the. labor cost of production. 
In this they agreed with the political economists. The query 
then naturally presented itself why all prices do not fall to 
labor cost ; where there is any room for incomes acquired 
otherwise than by labor; in a word, why the usurer, the re- 
ceiver of interest, rent, and profit, exists. The answer was 
found in the present one-sidedness of competition. It was 
discovered that capital had so manipulated legislation that un- 
limited competition is allowed in supplying productive labor, 
thus keeping wages down to the starvation point, or as near it 
as practicable; that a great deal of competition is allowed in 
supplying distributive labor, or the labor of the mercantile 
classes, thus keeping, not the prices of goods, but the mer- 
chants' actual profits on them, down to a point somewhat 
approximating equitable wages for the merchants' work; but 
that almost no competition at all is allowed in supplying capi- 
tal, upon the aid of which both productive and distributive 
labor are dependent for their power of achievement, thus 
keeping the rate of interest on money and of house-rent and 
ground-rent at as high a point as the necessities of the people 
will bear. 

On discovering this, Warren and Proudhon charged the 
political economists with being afraid of their own doctrine. 


The Manchester men were accused of being inconsistent. 
They believed in liberty to compete with the laborer in order 
to reduce his wages, but not in liberty to compete with the 
. capitalist in order to reduce his usury. Laissez faire was very 
good sauce for the goose, labor, but very poor sauce for the 
gander, capital. But how to correct this inconsistency, how 
to serve this gander with this sauce, how to put capital at the 
service of business men and laborers at cost, or free of usury, 
—that was the problem. 

Marx, as we have seen, solved it by declaring capital to be 
a different thing from product, and maintaining that it belonged 
to society and should be seized by society and employed for 
the benefit of all alike. Proudhon scoffed at this distinction 
between capital and product. He maintained that capital and 
product are not different kinds of wealth, but simply alternate 
conditions or functions of the same wealth; that all wealth 
undergoes an incessant transformation from capital into prod- 
uct and from product back into capital, the process repeating 
itself interminably; that capital and product are purely social 
terms; that what is product to one man immediately becomes 
capital to another, and vice versa; that, if there were but one 
person in the world, all wealth would be to him at once cap- 
ital and product; that the fruit of A's toil is his product, which, 
when sold to B, becomes B's capital (unless B is an unpro- 
ductive consumer, in which is merely wasted wealth, 
outside the view of social economy); that a steam-engine is 
just as much product as a coat, and that a coat is just as much 
capital as a steam-engine; and that the same laws of equity 
govern the possession of the one that govern the possession of 
the other. 

For these and other reasons Proudhon and Warren found 
themselves unable to sanction any such plan as the seizure of 
capital by society. But, though opposed to socializing the 
ownership of capital, they aimed nevertheless to socialize its 
effects by making its use beneficial to all instead of a means 
of impoverishing the many to enrich the few. And when the 
light burst in upon them, they saw that this could be done by 
subjecting capital to the natural law of competition, thus bring- 
ing the price of its use down to cost, — that is, to nothing be- 
yond the expenses incidental to handling and transferring 
it. So they raised the banner of Absolute Free Trade; free 
trade at home, as well as with foreign countries; the logical 
carrying out of the Manchester doctrine; laissez faire the 
universal rule. Under this banner they began their fight 
upon monopolies, whether the all-inclusive monopoly of the 


State Socialists, or the various class monopolies that now 

Of the latter they distinguished four of principal impor- 
tance : the money monopoly, the land monopoly, the tariff mo- 
nopoly, and the patent monopoly. 

First in the importance of its evil influence they considered 
the money monopoly, which consists of the privilege given by 
the government to certain individuals, or to individuals hold- 
ing certain kinds of property, of issuing the circulating medi- 
um, a privilege which is now enforced in this country by a 
national tax of ten per cent, upon all other persons who attempt 
to furnish a circulating medium, and by State laws making it 
a criminal offence to issue notes as currency. It is claimed 
that the holders of this privilege control the rate of interest, 
the rate of rent of houses and buildings, and the prices of 
goods, — the first directly, and the second and third indirectly. 
For, say Proudhon and Warren, if the business of banking 
were made free to all, more and more persons would enter into 
it until the competition should become sharp enough to reduce 
the price of lending money to the labor cost, which statistics 
show to be less than three-fourths of one per cent. In that 
case the thousands of people who are now deterred from going 
into business by the ruinously high rates which they must pay 
for capital with which to start and carry on business will find 
their difficulties removed. If they have property which they 
do not desire to convert into money by sale, a bank will take 
it as collateral for a loan of a certain proportion of its market 
value at less than one per cent, discount. If they have no 
property, but are industrious, honest, and capable, they will 
generally be able to get their individual notes endorsed by a 
sufficient number of known and solvent parties; and on such 
business paper they will be able to get a loan at a bank on 
similarly favorable terms. Thus interest will fall at a blow. 
The banks will really not be lending capital at all, but will be 
doing business on the capital of their customers, the business 
consisting in an exchange of the known and widely available 
credits of the banks for the unknown and unavailable, but 
equally good, credits of the customers, and a charge therefor 
of less than one per cent., not as interest for the use of capi- 
tal, but as pay for the labor of running the banks. This 
facility of acquiring capital will give an unheard-of impetus 
to business, and consequently create an unprecedented demand 
for labor, — a demand which will always be in excess of the 
supply, directly the contrary of the present condition of the 
labor market. Theii will be seen an exemplification of the 


words of Richard Cobden that, when two laborers are after 
one employer, wages fall, but when two employers are after one 
laborer, wages rise. Labor will then be in a position to dic- 
tate its wages, and will thus secure its natural wage, its entire 
product. Thus the same blow that strikes interest down will 
send wages up. But this is not all. Down will go profits also. 
For merchants, instead of buying at high prices on credit, 
will borrow money of the banks at less than one per cent., 
buy at low prices for cash, and correspondingly reduce the 
prices of their goods to their customers. And with the rest 
will go house-rent. For no one who can borrow capital at one 
per cent, with which to build a house of his own will consent 
to pay rent to a landlord at a higher rate than that. Such is 
the vast claim made by Proudhon and Warren as to the results 
of the simple abolition of the money monopoly. 

Second in importance comes the land monopoly, the evil 
effects of which are seen principally in exclusively agricultural 
countries, like Ireland. This monopoly consists in the enforce- 
ment by government of land titles which do not rest upon 
personal occupancy and cultivation. It was obvious to Warren 
and Proudhon that, as soon as individuals should no longer be 
protected by their fellows in anything but personal occupancy 
and cultivation of land, ground-rent would disappear, and so ' 
usury have one less leg to stand on. Their followers of to-day 
are disposed to modify this claim to the extent of admitting 
that the very small fraction of ground-rent which rests, not on 
monopoly, but on superiority of soil or site, will continue to 
exist for a time and perhaps forever, though tending constantly 
to a minimum under conditions of freedom. But the inequal- 
ity of soils which gives rise to the economic rent of land, like 
the inequality of human skill which gives rise to the economic 
rent of ability, is not a cause for serious alarm even to the 
most thorough opponent of usury, as its nature is not that of 
a germ from which other and graver inequalities may spring, 
but rather that of a decaying branch which may finally wither 
and fall. 

Third, the tariff monopoly, which consists in fostering pro- 
duction at high prices and under unfavorable conditions by 
visiting with the penalty of taxation those who patronize pro- 
duction at low prices and under favorable conditions. The 
evil to which this monopoly gives rise might more properly be 
called misusury than usury, because it compels labor to pay, 
not exactly for the use of capital, but rather for the misuse of 
capital. The abolition of this monopoly would result in a 
great reduction in the prices of all articles taxed, and this 


saving to the laborers who consume these articles would be 
another step toward securing to the laborer his natural wage, 
his entire product. Proud hon admitted, however, that to 
abolish this monopoly before abolishing the money monopoly 
would be a cruel and disastrous policy, first, because the evil 
of scarcity of money, created by the money monopoly, would 
be intensified by the flow of money out of the country which 
would be involved in an excess of imports over exports, and, 
second, because that fraction of the laborers of the country 
which is now employed in the protected industries would be 
turned adrift to face starvation without the benefit of the in- 
satiable demand for labor which a competitive money system 
would create. Free trade in money at home, making money 
and work abundant, was insisted upon by Proudhon as a prior 
condition of free trade in goods with foreign countries. 

Fourth, the patent monopoly, which consists in protecting 
inventors and authors against competition for a period long 
enough to enable them to extort from the people a reward 
enormously in excess of the labor measure of their services, — • 
in other words, in giving certain people a right of property for 
a term of years in laws and facts of Nature, and the power to 
exact tribute from others for the use of this natural wealth, 
which should be open to all. The abolition of this monopoly 
would fill its beneficiaries with a wholesome fear of com- 
petition which would cause them to be satisfied with pay for 
their services equal to that which other laborers get for theirs, 
and to secure it by placing their products and works on the 
market at the outset at prices so low that their lines of busi- 
ness would be no more tempting to competitors than any 
other lines. 

The development of the economic programme which con- 
sists in the destruction of these monopolies and the substitu- 
tion for them of the freest competition led its authors to a 
perception of the fact that all their thought rested upon a 
very fundamental principle, the freedom of the individual, his 
right of sovereignty over himself, his products, and his affairs, 
and of rebellion against the dictation of external authority. 
Just as the idea of taking capital away from individuals and 
giving it to the government started Marx in a path which 
ends in making the government everything and the individual 
nothing, so the idea of taking capital away from government- 
protected monopolies and putting it within easy reach of all 
individuals started Warren and Proudhon in a path which ends 
in making the individual everything and the government noth- 
ing. If the individual has a right to govern himself, all ex- 


ternal government is tyranny. Hence the necessity of 
abolishing the State. This was the logical conclusion to 
which Warren and Proudhon were forced, and it became the 
fundamental article of their political philosophy. It is the 
doctrine which Proudhon named An-archism, a word derived 
from the Greek, and meaning, not necessarily absence of 
order, as is generally supposed, but absence of rule. The 
Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats. 
They believe that " the best government is that which governs 
least," and that that which governs least is no government at 
all. Even the simple poHce function of protecting person and 
property they deny to governments supported by compulsory 
taxation. Protection they look upon as a thing to be secured, 
as long as it is necessary, by voluntary association and coop- 
eration for self-defence, or as a commodity to be purchased, 
like any other commodity, of those who offer the best article 
at the lowest price. In their view it is in itself an invasion 
of the individual to compel him to pay for or suffer a pro- 
tection against invasion that he has not asked for and does 
not desire. And they further claim that protection will be- 
come a drug in the market, after poverty and consequently 
crime have disappeared through the realization of their 
economic programme. Compulsory taxation is to them the 
life-principle of all the monopolies, and passive, but organized, 
resistance to the tax-collector they contemplate, when the 
proper time comes, as one of the most effective methods of 
accomplishing their purposes. 

Their attitude on this is a key to their attitude on all other 
questions of a political or social nature. In religion they are 
atheistic as far as their own opinions are concerned, for they 
look upon divine authority and the religious sanction of 
morality as the chief pretexts put forward by the privileged 
classes for the exercise of human authority. " If God ex- 
ists," said Proudhon, " he is man's enemy." And, in contrast 
to Voltaire's famous epigram, " If God did not exist, it would 
be necessary to invent him," the great Russian Nihilist, 
Michael Bakounine, placed this antithetical proposition: "If 
God existed, it would be necessary to abolish him." But 
although, viewing the divine hierarchy as a contradiction of 
Anarchy, they do not believe in it, the Anarchists none the 
less firmly believe in the liberty to believe in it. Any denial 
of religious freedom they squarely oppose. 

Upholding thus the right of every individual to be or select 
his own priest, they likewise uphold his right to be or select 
his own doctor. No monopoly in theology, no monopoly in 


medicine. Competition everywhere and always ; spiritual 
advice and medical advice alike to stand or fall on their own 
merits. And not only in medicine, but in hygiene, must this 
principle of liberty be followed. The individual may decide 
for himself not only what to do to get well, but what to do to 
^ keep well. No external power must dictate to him what he 
must and must not eat, drink, wear, or do. 

Nor does the Anarchistic scheme furnish any code of morals 
to be imposed upon the individual. " Mind your own busi- 
ness " is its only moral law. Interference with another's busi- 
ness is a crime and the only crime, and as such may properly 
be resisted. In accordance with this view the Anarchists look 
upon attempts to arbitrarily suppress vice as in themselves 
crimes. They believe liberty and the resultant social well- 
being to be a sure cure for all the vices. But they recognize 
the right of the drunkard, the gambler, the rake, and the 
harlot to live their lives until they shall freely choose to abanr 
don them. 

In the matter of the maintenance and rearing of children 
the Anarchists would neither institute the communistic nursery 
which the State Socialists favor nor keep the communistic 
school system which now prevails. The nurse and the teacher, 
like the doctor and the preacher, must be selected voluntarily, 
and their services must be paid for by those who patronize 
them. Parental rights must not be taken away, and parental 
responsibilities must not be foisted upon others. 

'Even in so delicate a matter as that of the relations of the 
'sexes the Anarchists do not shrink from the application of 
their principle. They acknowledge and defend the right of 
any man and woman, or any men and women, to love each 
other for as long or as short a time as they can, will, or may. 
To them legal marriage and legal divorce are equal absurdities. 
They look forward to a time when every individual, whether 
man or woman, shall be self-supporting, and when each shall 
have an independent home of his or her own, whether it be a 
separate house or rooms in a house with others; when the love 
relations between these independent individuals shall be as 
varied as are individual inclinations and attractions; and when 
\ the children born of these relations shall belong exclusively to 
V_the mothers until old enough to belong to themselves. 

Such are the main features of the Anarchistic social ideal. 
There is wide difference of opinion among those who hold it 
as to the best method of obtaining it. Time forbids the 
treatment of that phase of the subject here. I will simply 
call attention to the fact that it is an ideal utterly inconsistent 

10 iKfSTEAb O^ A bo6k. 

with that of those Communists who falsely call themselves 
Anarchists while at the same time advocating a regime of 
Archism fully as despotic as that of the State Socialists them- 
selves. And it is an ideal that can be as little advanced by 
the forcible expropriation recommended by John Most and 
Prince Kropotkine as retarded by the brooms of those Mrs. 
Partingtons of the bench who sentence them to prison; an 
ideal which the martyrs of Chicago did far more to help by 
their glorious death upon the gallows for the common cause 
of Socialism than by their unfortunate advocacy during their 
lives, in the name of Anarchism, of force as a revolutionary 
agent and authority as a safeguard of the new social order. 
The Anarchists believe in liberty both as end and means, and 
are hostile to anything that antagonizes it. 

I should not undertake to summarize this altogether too 
summary exposition of Socialism from the standpoint of Anar- 
chism, did I not find the task already accomplished for me by 
a brilliant French journalist and historian, Ernest Lesigne, in 
the form of a series of crisp antitheses; by reading which to 
you as a conclusion of this lecture I hope to deepen the im- 
pression which it has been my endeavor to make. 

" There are two Socialisms. 

" One is communistic, the other solidaritarian. 

" One is dictatorial, the other libertarian. 

" One is metaphysical, the other positive. 

" One is dogmatic, the other scientific. 

" One is emotional, the other reflective. 

" One is destructive, the other constructive. 

" Both are in pursuit of the greatest possible welfare for 

" One aims to establish happiness for all, the other to enable 
each to be, happy in his own way. 

" The first regards the State as a society siii generis, of an 
especial essence, the product of a sort of divine right outside 
of and above all society, with special rights and able to exact 
special obediences; the second considers the State as an asso- 
ciation like any other, generally managed worse than others. 

" The first proclaims the sovereignty of the State, the second 
recognizes no sort of sovereign. 

"One wishes all monopolies to be held by the State; the 
other wishes the abolition of all monopolies. 

" One wishes the governed class to become the governing 
class ; the other wishes the disappearance of classes. 

" Both declare that the existing state of things cannot last. 

" The first considers revolution as the indispensable agent of 


evolution ; the second teaches that repression alone turns evo- 
lution into revolution. 

" The first has faith in a cataclysm. 

" The second knows that social progress will result from the 
free play of individual efforts. 

" Both understand that we are entering upon a new historic 

" One wishes that there should be none but proletaires. 

" The other wishes that there should be no more proletaires. 

" The first wishes to take everything from everybody. 

" The second wishes to leave each in possession of his own. 

" The one wishes to expropriate everybody. 

" The other wishes everybody to be a proprietor. 

'■ The first says : ' Do as the government wishes.' 

" The second says : ' Do as you wish yourself.' 

" The former threatens with despotism. 

" The latter promises liberty. 

" The former majies the citizen the subject of the State. 

" The latter makes the State the employee of the citizen. 

" One proclaims that labor pains will be necessary to the 
birth of the new world. 

" The other declares that real progress will not cause suffer- 
ing to any one. 

" The first has confidence in social war. 

" The other believes only in the works of peace. 

" One aspires to compiand, to regulate, to legislate. 

" The other wishes to attain the minimum of command, of 
regulation, of legislation. 

" One would be followed by the most atrocious of reactions. 

" The other opens unlimited horizons to progress. 

" The first will fail; the other will succeed. 

" Both desire equality. 

" One by lowering heads that are too high. 

" The other by raising heads that are too low. 

" One sees equality under a common yoke. 

" The other will secure equality in complete liberty. 

" One is intolerant, the other tolerant. 

" One frightens, the other reassures. 

" The first wishes to instruct everybody. 

" The second wishes to enable everybody to instruct himself. 

" The first wishes to support everybody. 

" The second wishes to enable everybody to support himself. 

" One says : 

" The land to the State. 

" The mine to the State. 

1 8 ■', iMSTEAfi OP A fi002. 

"The tool to the State. 

" The product to the State. 

■' The other says: 

" The land to the cultivator. 

" The mine to the miner. 

" The tool to the laborer. 

" The product to the producer. 

" There are only these two Socialisms. 

" One is the infancy of Socialism; the other is its manhood. 

" One is already the past; the other is the future. 

" One will give place to the other. 

" To-day each of us must choose for one or the ether of 
these two Socialisms, or else confess that he is not a So- 



[Liieriy, November 15, 1890.] 

Ladies and Gentlemen: — Presumably the honor which you 
have done me in inviting me to address you to-day upon " The 
Relation of the State to the Individual" is due principally to the 
fact that circumstances have combined to make me somewhat 
conspicuous as an exponent of the theory of Modern Anarchism, 
— a theory which is coming to be more and more regarded as 
one of the few that are tenable as a basis of political and social 
life. In its name, then, I shall speak to you in discussing this 
question, which either underlies or closely touches almost every 
practical problem that confronts this generation. The future 
of the tariff, of taxation, of finance, of property, of woman, of 
marriage, of the family, of the suffrage, of education, of inven- 
tion, of literature, of science, of the arts, of personal habits, of 
private character, of ethics, of religion, will be determined by 
the conclusion at which mankind- shall arrive as to whether 
and how far the individual owes allegiance to the State. 

Anarchism, in dealing with this subject, has found it neces- 
sary, first of all, to define its terms. Popular conceptions of 
the terminology of politics are incompatible with the rigor- 
ous exactness required in scientific investigation. To be 
sure, a departure from the popular use of language is accom- 
panied by the risk of misconception by the multitude, who per- 
sistently ignore the new definitions; but, on the other hand, 
conformity thereto is attended by the still more deplorable al- 
ternative of confusion in the eyes of the competent, who would 
be justified in attributing inexactness of thought where there is 
inexactness of expression. Take the term "State," for instance, 
with which we are especially concerned to-day. It is a word 

* An address delivered before the Unitarian Ministers' Institute, at tlie 
annual session held in Salem, Mass., October 14, i8go, at which ad- 
dresses on the same subject were also delivered by Rev. W. D. P. Bliss, 
from the standpoint of Christian Socialism, and President E. Benjamin 
Andrews, of Brown University, from the standpoint of State regulation. 


that is on every lip. But how many of those who use it have 
any idea of what they mean by it? And, of the few who have, 
how various are their conceptions! We designate by the term 
" State " institutions that embody absolutism in its extreme 
form and institutions that temper it with more or less liberality. 
We apply the word alike to institutions that do nothing but 
aggress and to institutions that, besides aggressing, to some ex- 
tent protect and defend. • But which is the State's essential 
function, aggression or defence, few seem to know or care. 
Some champions of the State evidently consider aggression its 
principle, although they disguise it alike from themselves and 
from the people under the term " administration," which they 
wish to extend in every possible direction. Others, on the con- 
trary, consider defence its principle, and wish to limit it ac- 
cordingly to the performance of police duties. Still others 
seem to think that it exists for both aggression and defence, 
combined in varying proportions according to the momentary 
interests, or maybe only whims, of those happening to control 
it. Brought face to face with these diverse views, the Anar- 
chists, whose mission in the world is the abolition of aggression 
and all the evils that result therefrom, perceived that, to be 
understood, they must attach some definite and avowed sig- 
nificance to the terms which they are obliged to employ, and es- 
pecially to the words " State " and " government." Seeking, 
then, the elements common to all the institutions to which the 
name " State " has-been applied, they have found them two in 
number: first, aggression; second, the assumption of sole au- 
thority over a given area and all within it, exercised generally 
for the double purpose of more complete oppression of its sub- 
jects and extension of its boundaries. That this second ele- 
ment is common to all States, I think, will not be denied, — at 
least, I am not aware that any State has ever tolerated a rival 
State within its borders; and it seems plain that any State 
which should do so would thereby cease to be a State and to be 
considered as such by any. The exercise of authority over^ 
the same area by two States is a contradiction. That the first 
element, aggression, has been and is common to all States will 
probably be less generally admitted. Nevertheless, I shall not 
attempt to re-enforce here the conclusion of Spencer, which is 
gaining wider acceptance daily, — that the State had its origin 
in aggression, and has continued as an aggressive institution 
from its birth. Defence was an afterthought, prompted by ne- 
cessity; and Its introduction as a State function, though effected 
doubtless with a view to the strengthening of the State, was 
really and in principle the initiation of the State's destruction. 


Its growth in importance is but an evidence of the tendency of 
progress toward the abolition of the State. Taking this view 
of the matter, the Anarchists contend that defence is not an 
essential of the State, but that aggression is. Now what is ag- 
gression? Aggression is simply another name for government. 
Aggression, invasion, government, are interconvertible terms. 
The essence of government is control, or the attempt to con- 
trol. He who attempts to control another is a governor, an 
aggressor, an invader; and the nature of such invasion is not 
changed, whether it is made by one man upon another man, after 
the manner of the ordinary criminal, or by one man upon all 
other men, after the manner of an absolute monarch, or by all 
other men upon one man, after the manner of a modern de- 
mocracy. On the other hand, he who resists another's at- 
tempt to control is not an aggressor, an invader, a governor, 
but simply a defender, a protector; and the nature of such re- 
sistance is not changed whether it be offered by one man to an- 
other man, as when one repels a criminal's onslaught, or by one 
man to all other men, as when one declines to obey an oppres- 
sive law, or by all other men to one man, as when a subject 
people rises against a despot, or as when the members of a 
community voluntarily unite to restrain a criminal. This dis- 
tinction between invasion and resistance, between government 
and defence, is vital. Without it there can be no valid philos- 
ophy of politics. Upon this distinction and the other consid- 
erations just outlined, the Anarchists frame the desired defini- 
tions. This, then, is the Anarchistic definition of government: 
the subjection of the non-invasive individual to an external 
will. And this is the Anarchistic definition of the State: the 
embodiment of the principle of invasion in an indi^^dual, or a 
band of individuals, assuming to act as representatives or 
masters of the entire people within a given area. As to the 
meaning of the remaining term in the subject under discus- 
sion, the word " individual," I think there is little difficulty. 
Putting aside the subtleties in which certain metaphysicians 
have indulged, one may use this word without danger of being 
misunderstood. Whether the definitions thus arrived at prove 
generally acceptable or not is a matter of minor consequence. 
I submit that they are reached scientifically, and serve the 
purpose of a clear conveyance of thought. The Anarchists, 
having by their adoption taken due care to' be explicit, are en- 
titled to have their ideas judged in the light of these defini- 

Now comes the question proper : What relations should 
exist between the State and the individual ? The general 


method of determining these is to apply some theory of ethics 
involving a basis of moral obligation. In this method the 
Anarchists have no confidence. The idea of moral obliga- 
tion, of inherent rights and duties, they totally discard. 
They look upon all obligations, not as moral, but as social, 
and even then not really as obligations except as these have 
been consciously and voluntarily assumed. If a man makes 
an agreement with men, the latter may combine to hold him 
to his agreement ; but, in the absence of such agreement, no 
man, so far as the Anarchists are aware, has made any agree- 
ment with God or with any other power of any order what- 
soever. The Anarchists are not only utilitarians, but egoists 
in the farthest and fullest sense. So far as inherent right is 
concerned, might is its only measure. Any man, be his name 
Bill Sykes or Alexander Romanoff, and any set of men, 
whether the Chinese highbinders or the Congress of the 
United States, have the right, if they have the power, to kill 
or coerce other men and to make the entire world subservient 
to their ends. Society's right to enslave the individual and 
the individual's right to enslave society are unequal only be- 
cause their powers are unequal. This position being sub- 
versive of all systems of religion and morality, of course I 
cannot expect to win immediate assent thereto from the audi- 
ence which I am addressing to-day; nor does the time at my 
disposal allow me to sustain it by an elaborate, or even a sum- 
mary, examination of the foundations of ethics. Those who 
desire a greater familiarity with this particular phase of the 
subject should read a, profound German work, " Der Einzige 
und sein Eigenthum" written years ago by a comparatively un- 
known author. Dr. Caspar Schmidt, whose nom de plume was 
Max Stirner. Read only by a few scholars, the book is buried 
in obscurity, "but is destined to a resurrection that perhaps 
will mark an epoch. 

If this, then, were a question of right, it would be, accord- 
ing to the Anarchists, purely a question of strength. But, 
fortunately, it is not a question of right : it is a question of 
expediency, of knowledge, of science, — the science of living 
together, the science of society. The history of humanity 
has been largely one long and gradual discovery of the fact 
that the individual is the gainer by society exactly in propor- 
tion as society is free, and of the law that the condition of a 
permanent and harmonious society is the greatest amount of 
individual liberty compatible with equality of liberty. The 
average man of each new generation has said to himself more 
clearly and consciously than his predecessor : " My neighbor 


is not my enemy, but my friend, and I am his, if we would 
but mutually recognize the fact. We help each other to a 
better, fuller, happier living ; and this service might be greatly 
increased if we would cease to restrict, hamper, and oppress 
each other. Why can we not agree to let each live his own 
life,neither of us transgressing the limit that separates our in- 
dividualities ? " It is by this reasoning that mankind is ap- 
proaching the real social contract, which is not, as Rousseau 
thought, the origin of society, but rather the outcome of a long 
social experience, the fruit of its follies and disasters. It is 
obvious that this contract, this social law, developed to its 
perfection, excludes all aggression, all violation of equality of 
liberty, all invasion of every kind. Considering this contract 
in connection with the Anarchistic definition of the State as 
the embodiment of the principle of invasion, we see that the 
State is antagonistic to society ; and, society being essential to 
individual life and development, the conclusion leaps to the 
eyes that the relation of the State to the individual and of the 
individual to the State must be one of hostility, enduring till 
the State shall perish. 

" But," it will be asked of the Anarchists at this point in 
the argument, " what shall be done with those individuals who 
undoubtedly will persist in violating the social law by invading 
their neighbors ? " The Anarchists answer that the abolition 
of the State will leave in existence a defensive association, rest- 
ing no longer on a compulsory but on a voluntary basis, which 
will restrain invaders by any means that may prove necessary. 
" But that is what we have now," is the rejoinder;. " You really 
want, then, only a change of name ? " Not so fast, please. 
Can it be soberly pretended for a moment that the State, even 
as it exists here in America, is purely a defensive institution ? 
Surely not, save by those who see of the State only its most 
palpable manifestation, — the policeman on the street-corner. 
And one would not have to watch him very closely to see the 
error of this claim. Why, the very first act of the State, the 
compulsory assessment and collection of taxes, is itself an ag- 
gression, a violation of equal liberty, and, as such, vitiates 
evary subsequent act, even those acts which would be purely 
defensive if paid for out of a treasury filled by voluntary con- 
tributions. How is it possible to sanction, under the law of 
equal liberty, the confiscation of a man's earnings to pay for 
protection which he has not sought and does not desire ? And, 
if this is an outrage, what name shall we give to such confisca- 
tion when the victim is given, instead of bread, a stone, in- 
stead of protection, oppression ? To force a man to pay for 


the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult 
to injury. But that is exactly what the State is doing. Read 
the " Congressional Record "; follow the proceedings of the 
State legislatures ; examine our statute-books ; test each act 
separately by the law of equal liberty, — you will find that a 
good nine-tenths of existing legislation serves, not to enforce 
that fundamental social law, but either to prescribe the indi- 
vidual's personal habits, or, worse still, to create and sustain 
commercial, industrial, financial, and proprietary monopolies 
which deprive labor of a large part of the reward that it 
would receive in a perfectly free market. " To be governed," 
-ys^ Proudhon, " is to be watched, inspected, spied, directed, 
Taw-fiHden, regulated, penned up, indoctrinated, preached at, 
checked, appraised, sized, censured, commanded, by beings 
who have neither title nor knowledge nor virtue. To be gov- 
erned is to have every operation, every transaction, every 
movement noted, registered, counted, rated, stamped, meas- 
ured, numbered, assessed, licensed, refused, authorized, in- 
dorsed, admonished, prevented, reformed, redressed, corrected. 
To be governed is, under pretext of public utility and in the 
name of the general interest, to be laid under contribution, 
drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, ex- 
hausted, hoaxed, robbed ; then, upon the slightest resistance, 
at the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, 
annoyed, hunted down, pulled about, beaten, disarmed, bound, 
imprisoned, shot, mitrailleused, judged, condemned, banished, 
sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and, to crown all, ridiculed, derided, 
outraged, dis honored.^ And I am sure I do not need to 
-poirrt ■ouits^ou the existing laws that correspond to and jus- 
tify nearly every count in Proudhon's long indictment. How 
thoughtless, then, to assert that the existing political order is 
of a purely defensive character instead of the aggressive State 
which the Anarchists aim to abolish ! 

This leads to another consideration that bears powerfully 
upon the problem of the invasive individual, who is such a 
bugbear to the opponents of Anarchism. Is it not such treat- 
ment as has just been described that is largely responsible for 
his existence ? I have heard or read somewhere of an inserip- 
tion written for a certain charitable institution: 

( " This hospital a pious person built, 

I But first he made the poor wherewith to fiU't." 

And SO, it seems to me, it is with our prisons. They are 
filled with criminals which our virtuous State has rnade what 


they are by its iniquitous laws, its grinding monopolies, and 
the horrible social conditions that result from them. We 
enact many laws that manufacture criminals, and then a few 
that punish them. Is it too much to expect that the new 
social conditions which must follow the abolition of all inter- 
ference with the production and distribution of wealth will in 
the end so change the habits and propensities of men that our 
jails and prisons, our policemen and our soldiers, — in a word, 
our whole machinery and outfit of defence, — will be superflu- 
ous ? That, at least, is the Anarchists' belief. It sounds 
Utopian,''but it really rests on severely economic grounds. 
To-day, however, time is lacking to explain the Anarchistic 
view of the dependence of usury, and therefore of poverty, 
upon monopolistic privilege, especially the banking privilege, 
and to show how an intelligent minority, educated in the prin- 
ciple of Anarchism and determined to exercise that right to ig- 
nore the State upon which Spencer, in his " Social Statics," so 
ably and admirably insists, might, by setting at defiance the 
National and State banking prohibitions, and establishing a 
Mutual Bank in competition with the existing monopolies, take 
the first and most important step in the abolition of usury and 
of the State. Simple as such a step would seem, from it all 
the rest would follow. 

A half-hour is a very short time in, which to discuss the 
relation of the State to the individual, and I must ask your 
pardon for the brevity of my dealing with a succession of con- 
siderations each of which needs an entire essay for its devel- 
opment. If I have outlined the argument intelligibly, I 
have accomplished all that I expected. But, in the hope of im- 
pressing the idea of the true social contract more vividly upon 
your minds, in conclusion I shall take the liberty of reading 
another page from Proudhon, to whom I am indebted for 
most of what I know, or think I know, upon this subject. 
Contrasting authority with free contract, he says, in his " Gen- 
eral Idea of the Revolution of the Nineteenth Century " : — 

" Of ths distance that separates these two regimes, we may 
judge by the difference in their styles. 

" One of the most solemn moments in the evolution of 
the principle of authority is that of the promulgation of the 
Decalogue. The voice of the angel commands the People, 
prostrate at the foot of Sinai: — 

"Thou shalt worship the Eternal, and only the Eternal. 

" Thou shalt swear only by him. 

" Thou shalt keep his holidays, and thou shalt pay his 
tithes. I 


" Thou Shalt honor thy father and thy mother. 

" Thou Shalt not kill. 

" Thou shalt not steal. 

" Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

" Thou shalt not bear false witness. 

" Thou shalt not covet or calumniate. 

" For the Eternal ordains it, and it is the Eternal who has 
made you what you are. The Eternal is alone sovereign, 
alone wise, alone worthy; the Eternal punishes and rewards. 
It is in the power of the Eternal to render you happy or 
unhappy at his will. 

" All legislations have adopted this style; all, speaking to 
man, employ the sovereign formula. The Hebrew commands 
in the future, the Latin in the imperative, the Greek in the 
infinitive. The moderns do not otherwise. The tribune of 
the parliament-house is a Sinai as infallible and as terrible as 
that of Moses; whatever the law may be, from whatever lips 
it may come, it is sacred once it has been proclaimed by that 
prophetic trumpet, which with us is the majority. 

" Thou shalt not assemble. 

" Thou shalt not print. 

" Thou shalt not read. 

" Thou shalt respect thy representatives and thy ofificials, 
which the hazard of the ballot or the good pleasure of the 
State shall have given you. 

" Thou shalt obey the laws which they in their wisdom shall 
have made. 

" Thou shalt pay thy taxes faithfully. 

"And thou shalt love the Government, thy Lord and thy 
God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all 
thy mind, because the Government knows better than thou 
what thou art, what thou art worth, what is good for thee, 
and because it has the power to chastise those who disobey its 
commandments, as well as to reward unto the fourth genera- 
tion those who make themselves agreeable to it. 

" With the Revolution it is quite different. 

" The search for first causes and for final causes is elimi- 
nated from economic science as from the natural sciences. 

" The idea of Progress replaces, in philosophy, that of the 

" Revolution succeeds Revelation. 

" Reason, assisted by Experience, discloses to man the laws 
of Nature and Society; then it says to him: — 

" These laws are those of necessity itself. No man has 
made them; no man imposes them upon you. They have been 


gradually discovered, and I exist only to bear testimony to 

" If you observe them, you will be just and good. 

" If you violate them, you will be unjust and wicked. 

" I offer you no other motive. 

" Already, among your fellows, several have recognized that 
justice is better, for each and for all, than iniquity; and they 
have agreed with each other to mutually keep faith and right, — 
that is, to respect the rules of transaction which the nature 
of things indicates to them as alone capable of assuring them, 
in the largest measure, well-being, security, peace. 

" Do you wish to adhere to their compact, to form a part of 
their society ? 

" Do you promise to respect the honor, the liberty, and the 
goods of your brothers ? 

" Do you promise never to appropriate, either by violence, 
or by fraud, or by usury, or by speculation, the product or the 
possession of another ? 

" Do you promise never to lie and deceive, either in justice, 
or in business, or in any of your transactions ? 

" You are free to "accept or to refuse. 

" If you refuse, you become a part of the society of savages. 
Outside of the communion of the human race, you become 
an object of suspicion. Nothing protects you. At the slight- 
est insult, the first comer may lift his hand against you without 
incurring any other accusation than that of cruelty needlessly 
practised upon a brute. 

" On the contrary, if you swear to the compact, you become 
a part of the society of free men. All your brothers enter 
into an engagement with you, promise you fidelity, friendship, 
aid, service, exchange. In case of infraction, on their part or 
on yours, through negligence, passion, or malice, you are re- 
sponsible to each other for the damage as well as the scandal 
and the insecurity of which you have been the cause : this re- 
sponsibility may extend, according to the gravity of the perjury 
or the repetitions of the offence, even to excommunication and 
to death. 

"The law is clear, the sanction still more so. Three arti- 
cles, which make but one, — that is the whole social contract. 
Instead of making oath to God and his prince, the citizen 
swears upon his conscience, before his brothers, and before 
Humanity. Between these two oaths there is the same differ- 
ence as between slavery and liberty, faith and science, courts 
and justice, usury and labor, government and economy, non- 
existence and being, God and man." 



[Liierty, August 6, 1881.] 

Liberty enters the field of journalism to speak for herself 
because she finds no one willing to speak for her. She hears 
no voice that always champions her ; she knows no pen that 
always writes in her defence ; she sees no hand that is always 
lifted to avenge her wrongs or vindicate her rights. Many 
claim to speak in her name, but few really understand her. 
Still fewer have the courage and the opportunity to consist- 
ently fight for her. Her battle, then, is her own to wage and 
win. She accepts it fearlessly and with a determined spirit. 

Her foe, Authority, takes many shapes, but, broadly speak- 
ing, her enemies divide themselves into three classes : first, 
those who abhor her both as a means and as an end of progress, 
opposing her openly, avowedly, sincerely, consistently, univer- 
sally ; second, those who profess to believe in her as a means 
of progress, but who accept her only so far. as they think she 
will subserve their own selfish interests, denying her and her 
blessings to the rest of the world ; third, those who distrust 
her as a means of progress, believing in her only as an end to 
be obtained by first trampling upon, violating, and outraging 
her. These three phases of opposition to Liberty are met in 
almost every sphere of thought and human activity. Good 
representatives of the first are seen in the Catholic Church 
and the Russian autocracy ; of the second, in the Protestant 
Church and the Manchester school of politics and political 
economy ; of the third, in the atheism of Gambetta and the 
socialism of Karl Marx. 

Through these forms of authority another line of demarca- 
tion runs transversely, separating the divine from the human ; 
or, better still, the religious from the secular. Liberty's vic- 
tory over the former is well-nigh achieved. Last century Vol- 
taire brought the authority of the supernatural into dis- 
repute. The Church has been declining ever since. Her teeth 
are drawn, and though she seems still to show here and 
there vigorous signs of life, she does so in the violence 
of the death-agony upon her, and soon her power will 
be felt no more. It is human authority that hereafter 
is to be dreaded, and the State, its organ, that in the future 
is to be feared. Those who have lost their faith in gods 

* Liberty's salutatory. 


only to put it in governments ; those who have ceased to be 
Church-worshippers only to become State-worshippers ; those 
who have abandoned pope for king or czar, and priest for pres- 
ident or parliament, — have indeed changed their battle-ground, 
but none the less are foes of Liberty still. The Church has 
become^an object of derision ; the State must be made equally 
so. The State is said by some to be a " necessary evil " ; it 
must be made unnecessary. This century's battle, then, is 
with the State : the State, that debases man ; the State, that 
prostitutes woman ; the State, that corrupts children ; the State, 
that trammels love ; the State, that stifles thought ; the State, 
that monopolizes land ; the State, that limits credit ; the 
State, that restricts exchange ; the State, that gives idle capital 
the power of increase, and, through interest, rent, profit, and 
taxes, robs industrious labor of its products. 

How the State does these things, and how it can be pre- 
vented from doing them. Liberty proposes to show in more 
detail hereafter in the prosecution of her pupose. Enough 
to say now that monopoly and privilege must be destroyed, 
opportunity afforded, and competition encouraged. This is 
Liberty's work, and " Down with Authority " her war-cry. 


[Liberty^ July 30, 1887.] 

Some very interesting and valuable discussion is going on 
in the London Jus concerning the question of compulsory 
versus voluntary taxation. In the issue of June 17 there is a 
communication from F. W. Read, in which the following 
passage occurs: 

The voluntary taxation proposal really means the dissolution of the 
State into its constituent atoms, and leaving them to recombine in some 
way or no way, just as it may happen. There would be nothing to pre- 
vent the existence of five or six "States" in England, and members of 
all these " States " might be living in the same house ! The proposal is. 
it appears to me, the outcome of an idea in the minds of those who pro- 
pound it that the State is, or ought to be, founded on contract, just as a 
Joint-stock company is. It is a similar idea to the defunct " original con- 
tract " theory. It was thought the State must rest upon a contract. There 
had been no contract in historic times ; it was therefore assumed that there 
had been a prehistoric contract. The voluntary taxationist says there 
never has been any contract; therefore the State has never had any ethical 
basis ; therefore we will not make a contract. The explanation of the 


whole matter, I believe, is that given by Mr. Wordsworth Donisthorpe,— 
viz., that the State is a social organism, evolved as every other organism 
is evolved, and not requiring any more than other organisms to be based 
upon a contract either original or contemporary. 

The idea that the voluntary taxationist objects to the State 
precisely because it does not rest on contract, and wishes to 
substitute contract for it, is strictly correct, and I am glad to 
see (for the first time, if my memory serves me) an opponent 
grasp it. But Mr. Read obscures his statement by his previous 
remark that the proposal of voluntary taxation is " the out- 
come of an idea . . . that the State is, or ought to be, founded 
on contract." This would be true if the words which I have 
italicized should bfe omitted. It was the insertion of these 
words that furnished the writer a basis for his otherwise 
groundless analogy between the Anarchists and the followers 
of Rousseau. The latter hold that the State originated in a 
contract, and that the people of to-day, though they did not 
make it, are bound by it. The Anarchists, on the contrary, 
deny that any such contract was ever made ; declare that, had 
one ever been made, it could not impose a shadow of obliga- 
tion on those who had no hand in making it; and claim the 
right to contract for themselves as they please. The position 
that a man may make his own contracts, far from being 
analogous to that which makes him subject to contracts made 
by others, is its direct antithesis. 

It is perfectly true that voluntary taxation would not 
necessarily " prevent the existence of five or six ' States ' in 
England," and that " members of all these ' States ' might be 
living in the same house." But I see no reason for Mr. Read's 
exclamation point after this remark. What of it ? There are 
many more than five or six Churches in England, and it fre- 
quently happens that members of several of them live in the 
same house. There are many more than five or six insurance 
companies in England, and it is by no means uncommon for 
members of the same family to insure their lives and goods 
against accident or fire in different companies. Does any 
harm come of it ? Why, then, should there not be a consider- 
able number of defensive associations in England, in which 
people, even members of the same family, might insure their 
lives and goods against murderers or thieves ? Though Mr. 
Read has grasped one idea of the voluntary taxationists, I fear 
that he sees another much less clearly, — namely, the idea that 
defence is a service, like any other service ; that it is labor both 
useful and desired, and therefore an economic commodity sub- 


ject to the law of supply and demand ; that in a free market 
this commodity would be furnished at the cost of production; 
that, competition prevailing, patronage would go to those who 
furnished the best article at the lowest price; that the production 
and sale of this commodity are now monopolized by the State; 
that the State, like almost all monopolists, charges exorbitant 
prices; that, like almost all monopolists, it supplies a worthless, 
or nearly worthless, article ; that, just as the monopolist of a 
food product often furnishes poison instead of nutriment, so 
the State takes advantage of its monopoly of defence to furnish 
invasion instead of protection ; that, just as the patrons of the 
one pay to be poisoned, so the patrons of the other pay to be 
enslaved ; and, finally, that the State exceeds all its fellow- 
monopolists in the extent of its villany because it enjoys the 
unique privilege of compelling all people to buy its product 
whether they want it or not. If, then, five or six " States " 
were to hang out their shingles, the people, I fancy, would be 
able to buy the very best kind of security at a reasonable price. 
And what is more, — the better their services, the less they 
would be needed ; so that the multiplication of " States " in- 
volves the abolition of the State. 

All these considerations, however, are disposed of, in Mr. 
Read's opinion, by his final assertion that " the State is asocial 
organism." He considers this " the explanation of the whole 
matter." But for the life of me I can see in it nothing but 
another irrelevant remark. Again I ask: What of it ? Suppose 
the State is an organism, — what then ? What is the inference ? 
That the State is therefore permanent ? But what is history 
but a record of the dissolution of organisms and the birth and 
growth of others to be dissolved in turn ? Is the State exempt 
from this order ? If so, why ? What proves it ? The State 
an organism ? Yes ; so is a tiger. But unless I meet him when 
I haven't my gun, his organism will speedly disorganize. The 
State is a tiger seeking to devour the people, and they must 
either kill or cripple it. Their own safety depends upon it. 
But Mr. Read says it can't be done. " By no possibility can 
the power of the State be restrained." This must be very dis- 
appointing to Mr. Dbnisthorpe and Jus, who are working" to 
restrain it. If Mr. Read is right, their occupation is gone. Is 
he right ? Unless he can demonstrate it, the voluntary taxa- 
tionists and the Anarchists will continue their work, cheered 
by the belief that the compulsory and invasive State is doomed 
to die. 



YLiberty^ October 22, 1887.] 

Below is reprinted from the London Jus the reply of F. 
W. Read to the editorial in No. 104 oi Liberty, entitled "Con- 
tract or Organism, What's That to Us ? " 

To the Editor of Jus : 

Sir,— Referring to Mr. Tucker's criticisms on my letters in Jus deal- 
ing with Voluntary Taxation, the principle of a State organism seems to 
be at the bottom of the controversy. I will therefore deal with that first, 
although it comes last in Mr. Tucker's article. Mr. Tucker asks whether 
the State being an organism makes it permanent and exempt from disso- 
lution. Certainly not ; I never said it did. But cannot Mr. Tucker see 
that dissolving an organism is something different from dissolving a col- 
lection of atoms with no organic structure ? If the people of a State had 
been thrown together yesterday or the day before, no particular harm 
would come from splitting them into numerous independent sections ; but 
when a people has grown together generation after generation, and cen- 
tury after century, to break up the adaptations and correlations that have 
been established can scarcely be productive of any good results. The 
tiger is an organism, says Mr. Tucker, but if shot he will be speedily dis- 
organized. Quite so; but nobody supposes that the atoms of the tiger's 
body derive any benefit from the process. ■ Why should the atoms of the 
body politic derive any advantage from the dissolution of the organism of 
which tiey form a part ? That Mr. Tucker should put the State on a level 
with churches and insurance companies is simply astounding. Does Mr. 
Tucker really think that five or six " States " could exist side by side with 
the same convenience as an equal number of churches ? The diflSculty of 
determining what " State" an individual belonged to would be practically 
insuperable. How are assaults and robberies to be dealt with ? Is a man 
to be tried by the " State "of which he is a citizen, or by the " State " ot 
the party aggrieved ? If by his own, how is a police officer of that " State " 
to know whether a certain individual belongs to it or not ? The difficulties 
are so enormous that the State would soon be reformed on the old lines. 
Another great difficulty would be that the State would find it impossible to 
make a contract. If the State is regarded as a mere collection of indi- 
viduals, who will lend money on State security ? The reason the State is 
trusted at all is because it is regarded as something over and above the in- 
dividuals who happen to compose it at any given time ; because we feel 
that, while individuals die, the State remains, and that the State will honor 
State contracts, even if made for purposes that are disapproved by those 
who are the atoms of the State organism. I have, indeed, heard it said 
that it would be a good thing if the State did find it impossible to pledge 
its credit; but good credit seems as useful to a State as to an individual. 
Again, is it no advantage to us to be able to make treaties with foreign 
countries ? But what country will make a treaty with a mere mass of indi- 
viduals, a large portion of whom will be gone in ten years' time ? 

But apart from the question of organism or no organism, does not his- 
tory show us a continuous weakening of the State in some directions, and 


a continuous strengthening in other directions ? We find a gradual disap- 
pearance of the desire " to furnish invasion instead of protection," and, as 
the State ceases to do so, the more truly strong does it become, and the 
more vigorously does it carry out what I regard as its ultimate function, — 
that of protecting some against the aggression of others. 

One word in conclusion as to restraining the power of the State. Of 
course by restraint I mean legal restraint. For instance, you could not 
deprive the State of its taxing power by passing a law to that effect. The 
framers of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland tried to 
restrain the power of the State to disestablish the Irish Church ; but the 
Irish Church was disestablished for all that. What Individualists are try- 
ing to do is to show the State that, when it regulates factories and coal 
mines, and a thousand and one other things, it is acting against its own 
interests. When the State has learned the lesson , the meddling will cease. 
If Mr, Tucker chooses to call that restraining the State, he can do so; I 
don't. Yours truly, etc., F. W. Read. 

In answer to Mr. Read's statement (vt^hich, if, with all its 
implications, it were true, would be a valid and final answer to 
the Anarchists) that " dissolving an organism is something 
different from dissolving a collection of atoms with no organic 
structure," I cannot do better than quote the following pas- 
sage from an article by J. Wm. Lloyd in No. 107 of Liberty : 

It appears to me that this universe is but a vast aggregate of individuals; 
of individuals simple and p-rimary, and of individuals complex, secondary, 
tertiary, etc., formed by the aggregation of primary individuals or of in- 
dividuals of a lesser degree of complexity. Some of these individuals of 
a high degree of complexity are true individuals, concrete, so united that 
the lesser organisms included cannot exist apart from the main organism; 
while others are imperfect, discrete, the included organisms existing fairly 
well, quite as well, or better, apart than united. In the former class are 
included many of the higher forms of vegetable and animal life, including 
man, and in the latter are included many lower forms of vegetable and ani- 
mal life (quack-grass, tape-worms, etc.), and most societary organisms, 
governments, nations, churches, armies, etc. 

Taking this indisputable view of the matter, it becomes 
clear that Mr. Read's statement about " dissolving an organ- 
ism " is untrue while the word organism remains unqualified 
by some adjective equivalent to Mr. Lloyd's concrete. The 
question, then, is whether the State is a concrete organism. 
The Anarchists claim that it is not. If Mr. Read thinks that 
it is, the onus probandi is upon him. I judge that his error 
arises from a confusion of the State with society. That soci- 
ety is a concrete organism the Anarchists do not deny ; on the 
contrary, they insist upon it. Consequently they have no in- 
tention or desire to abolish it. They know that its life is in- 
separable from the lives of individuals ; that it is impossible to 
destroy one without destroying the other. But, though society 
cannot be destroyed, it can be greatly hampered and impeded 


in its operations, much to the disadvantage of the individuals 
composing it, and it meets its chief impediment in the Staie. 
The State, unlike society, is a discrete organism. If it should 
be destroyed to-morrow, individuals would still continue to 
exist. Production, exchange, and association would go on as 
before, but much more freely, and all those social, functions 
upon which the individual is dependent would operate in his 
behalf more usefully than ever. The individual is not related 
to the State as the tiger's paw is related to the tiger. Kill the 
tiger, and the tiger's paw no longer performs its office; kill the 
State, and the individual still lives and satisfies his wants. As 
for society, the Anarchists would not kill it if they could, and 
could not if they would. 

Mr. Read finds it astounding that I should " put the State 
on a level with churches and insurance companies." I find his 
astonishment amusing. Believers in compulsory religious sys- 
tems were astounded when it was first proposed to put the 
church on a level with other associations. Now the only as- 
tonishment is — at least in the United States — that the church 
is allowed to stay at any other level. But the political super- 
stition has replaced the religious superstition, and Mr. Read is 
under its sway. 

I do not think " that five or six ' States ' could exist side by 
side with " quite " the same convenience as an equal number 
of churches." In the relations with which States have to do 
there is more chance for friction than in the simply religious 
sphere. But, on the other hand, the friction resulting from a 
multiplicity of States would be but a mole-hill compared with 
the mountain of oppression and injustice which is gradually 
heaped up by a single compulsory State. It would not be 
necessary for a police officer of a voluntary " State " to know 
to what " State " a given individual belonged, or whether he 
belonged to any. Voluntary " States " could, and probably 
would, authorize their executives to proceed against invasion, 
no matter who the invader or invaded might be. Mr. Read 
will probably object that the " State " to which the invader 
belonged might regard his arrest as itself an invasion, and 
proceed against the " State " which arrested him. Antici- 
pation of such conflicts would probably result exactly in 
those treaties between " States " which Mr. Read looks upon 
as so desirable, and even in the establishment of federal 
tribunals, as courts of last resort, by the co-operation of the 
various " States," on the same voluntary principle in accord- 
ance with which the " States " themselves were organized. 

Voluntary taxation, far from impairing the " State's " credit, 


would Strengthen it. In the first place, the simplification of 
its functions would greatly reduce, and perhaps entirely 
abolish, its need to borrow, and the power to borrow is gener- 
ally inversely proportional to the steadiness of the need. It 
is usually the inveterate borrower who lacks credit. In the 
second place, the power of the State to repudiate, and still 
continue its business, is dependent upon its power of com- 
pulsory taxation. It knows that, when it can no longer 
borrow, it can at least tax its citizens up to the limit of 
revolution. In the third place, the State is trusted* not be- 
cause it is over and above individuals, but because the lender 
presumes that it desires to maintain its credit and will there- 
fore pay its debts. This desire for credit will be stronger in 
a " State " supported by voluntary taxation thaii in the State 
which enforces taxation. 

All the objections brought forward by Mr. Read (except 
the organism argument) are mere difficulties of adminis- 
trative detail, to be overcome by ingenuity, patience, dis- 
cretion, and expedients. They are not logical difficulties, not 
difficulties of principle. They seem "enormous" to him ; but 
so seemed the difficulties of freedom of thought two centuries 
ago. What does he think of the difficulties of the existing 
regime ? Apparently he is as blind to them as is the Roman 
Catholic to the difficulties of a State religion. All thesd 
" enormous " difficulties which arise in the fancy of the 
objectors to the voluntary principle will gradually vanish 
under the influence of the economic changes and well-dis- 
tributed prosperity which will follow the adoption of that 
principle. This is what Proudhon calls " the dissolution of 
government in the economic organism." It is too vast a sub- 
ject for consideration here, but, if Mr. Read wishes to under- 
stand the Anarchistic theory of the process, let him study that 
most wonderful of all the wonderful books of Proudhon, the 
"Idee Generale de la Revolution au Dix-Neuvieme Siecle." 

It is true that " history shows a continuous weakening of 
the State in some directions, and a continuous strengthening 
in other directions." At least such is the tendency, broadly 
speaking, though this continuity is sometimes broken by 
periods of reaction. This tendency is simply the progress of 
evolution towards Anarchy. The State invades less and less, 
and protects more and more. It is exactly in the line of this 
process, and at the end of it, that the Anarchists demand the 
abandonment of the last citadel of invasion by the substitu- 
tion of voluntary for compulsory taxation. When this step 
is taken, the " State " will achieve its maximum strength as a 


protector against aggression, and will maintain it as lor^g as its 
services are needed in that capacity. 

If Mr. Read, in saying that the power of the State cannot 
be restrained, simply meant that it cannot be legally restrained, 
his remark had no fitness as an answer to Anarchists and 
voluntary taxationists. They do not propose to legally re- 
strain it. They propose to create a public sentiment that will 
make it impossible for the State to collect taxes by force or 
in any other way invade the individual. Regarding the State 
as an instrument of aggression, they do not expect to convince 
it that aggression is against its interests, but they do expect to 
convince individuals that it is against their interests to be in- 
vaded. If by this means they succeed in stripping the State 
of its invasive powers, they will be satisfied, and it is im- 
material to them whether the means is described by the word 
"restraint" or by some other word. In fact, I have striven 
in this discussion to accommodate myself to Mr. Read's 
phraseology. For myself I do net think it proper to call 
voluntary associations States, but, enclosing the word in 
quotation marks, I have so used it because Mr. Read set the 


[Li6e7-ty, March 8, 1890.3 

One of the most interesting papers that come to this office 
is the Personal Rights Journal of London. Largely written 
by men like J. H. Levy and Wordsworth Donisthorpe, it could 
not be otherwise. Virtually it champions the same political 
faith that finds an advocate in Liberty. It means by indi- 
vidualism what Liberty means by Anarchism. That it does 
not realize this fact, and that it assumes Anarchism to be 
something other than complete individualism, is the principal 
difference between us. This misunderstanding of Anarchism 
is very clearly and cleverly exhibited in a passage which I 
copy from a keen and thought-provoking lecture on " The 
Outcome of Individualism," delivered by J. H. Levy before 
the National Liberal Club on January lo, 1890, and printed 
in the Personal Rights Journal of January and February : 

If we are suffering from a poison, we find it advantageous to take 
9 second ppison, which aqts as an antidote to the first. But, if we a,x% 


wise, we limit our dose of the second poison so that the toxic effects of 
both combined are at the minimum. If we take more of it, it produces 
toxic effects of its own beyond those necessary to counteract, so far as 
possible, the first poison. If we talce less of it, the first poison, to some 
extent, will do its bad work unchecked. This illustrates the position of 
the Individualist, against the Socialist on the one side and the Anarchist 
on the other. I recognize that government is an evil. It always means 
the employment of force against our fellow-man, and — at the very best— 
his subjection, over a larger or smaller extent of the field of conduct, to 
the will of a majority of his fellow-citizens. But if this organized or reg- 
ularized interference were utterly abolished, he would not escape from 
aggression. He would, in such a society as ours, be liable to far more 
violence and fraud, which would be a much worse evil than the inter- 
vention of government needs be. But when government pushes its in- 
terference beyond the point of maintaining the widest liberty equally for 
all citizens, it is itself the aggressor, and none the less so because its 
motives are good. 

Names aside, the thing that Individualism favors, accord- 
ing to the foregoing, is organization to maintain the widest 
liberty equally for all citizens. Well, that is precisel)' what 
Anarchism favors. Individualism does not want such organ- 
ization any longer than is necessary. Neither does Anarchism. 
Mr. Levy's assumption that Anarchism does not want such 
organization at all arises from his failure to recognize the 
Anarchistic definition of government. Government has been 
defined repeatedly in these; columns as the subjection of the 
non-invasive individual to a will not his own. The subjection 
of the invasive individual is not government, but resistance to 
and protection from government. By these definitions govern- 
ment is always an evil, but resistance to it is never an evil or 
a poison. Call such resistance an antidote if you will, but 
remember that not all antidotes are poisonous. The worst 
that can be said of resistance or protection is, not that it is an 
evil, but that it is a loss of productive force in a necessary 
effort to overcome evil. It can be called an evil only in the 
sense that needful and not especially healthful labor can be 
called a curse. The poison illustration, good enough with 
Mr. Levy's definitions, has no force with the Anarchistic use 
of terms. 

Government is invasion, and the State, as defined in the last 
issue of Liberty, is the embodiment of invasion in an indi- 
vidual, or band of individuals, assuming to act as representa- 
tives or masters of the entire people within a given area. The 
Anarchists are opposed to all government, and especially to 
the State as the worst governor and chief invader. From 
Liberty's standpoint, there are not three positions, but two : 
one, that of the authoritarian Socialists, favoring government 


and the State ; the other, that of the Individualists and Anar- 
chists, against government and the State. 

It is true that Mr. Levy expressly accords liberty of defini- 
tion, and therefore I should not have said a word if he had 
simply stated the Individualist position without misinterpreting 
the Anarchist position. But in view of this misinterpretation, 
I must ask him to correct it, unless he can show that my 
criticism is invalid. 

I may add, in conclusion, that very probably the disposition 
of the Individualist to give greater prominence than does the 
Anarchist to the necessity of organization for protection is 
due to the fact that he seems to see less clearly than the An- 
archist that the necessity for defence against individual in- 
vaders is largely and perhaps, in the end, wholly due to the 
oppressions of the invasive State, and that when the State 
falls, criminals will begin to disappear. 


\Liberty-, November i, 1890.] 

" Whatever else Anarchism may mean, it means that State 
coercion of peaceable citizens, into co-operation in restraining 
the activity of Bill Sikes, is to be condemned and ought to be 
abolished. Anarchism implies the right of an individual to 
stand aside and see a man murdered or a woman raped. It 
implies the right of the would-be passive accomplice of ag- 
gression to escape all coercion. It is true the Anarchist may 
voluntarily co-operate to check aggression ; but also he may 
not. Qud Anarchist, he is within his right in withholding 
such co-operation, in leaving others to bear the burden of 
resistance to aggression, or in leaving the aggressor to triumph 
unchecked. Individualism, on the other hand, would not 
only restrain the active invader up to the point necessary to 
restore freedom to others, but would also coerce the man who 
would otherwise be a passive witness of, or conniver at, ag- 
gression into co-operation against his more active colleague." 

The foregoing paragraph occurs in an ably-written article 
by Mr. J. H. Levy in the Personal Rights Journal. The writer's 
evident intention was to put Anarchism in an unfavorable light 
by stating its principles, or one of them, in a very offensive 
way. At the same time it was his inte^ition also to be fair, — 


that is, not to distort the doctrine of Anarchism, — and he has 
not distorted it. I reprint the paragraph in editorial type for 
the purpose of giving it, as an Anarchist, my entire approval, 
barring the stigma sought to be conveyed by the words " ac- 
complice " and " conniver." If a man will but state the truth 
as I see it, he may state it as baldly as he pleases ; I will ac- 
cept it still. The Anarchists are not afraid of their principles. 
It is far more satisfactory to have one's position stated baldly 
and accurately by an opponent who understands it than in a 
genial, milk-and-water, and inaccurate fashion by an igno- 

It is agreed, then, that, in Anarchism's view, an individual has 
aright to stand aside and see a man murdered. And pray, why 
not ? If it is justifiable to collar a man who is minding his 
own business and force him into a fight, why may we not also 
collar him for the purpose of forcing him to help us to coerce 
a parent into educating his child, or to commit any other act 
of invasion that may seem to us for the general good ? I can 
see no ethical distinction here whatever. It is true that Mr. 
Levy, in the succeeding paragraph, justifies the collaring of 
the non-co-operative individual on the ground of necessity. (I 
note here that this is the same ground on which Citizen Most 
proposes to collar the non-co-operator in his communistic en- 
terprises and make him work for love instead of wages.) But 
some other motive than necessity must have been in Mr. 
Levy's mind, unconsciously, when he wrote the paragraph 
which I have quoted. Else why does he deny that the non- 
co-operator is " within his right " ? I can understand the man 
who in a crisis justifies no matter what form of compulsion on 
the ground of sheer necessity, but I cannot understand the 
man who denies the right of the individual thus coerced to 
resist such compulsion' and insist on pursuing his own inde- 
pendent course. It is precisely this denial, however, that Mr. 
Levy makes ; otherwise his phrase " within his right " is 

But however this may be, let us look at the plea of neces- 
sity. Mr. Levy claims that the coercion of the peaceful non- 
co-operator is necessary. Necessary to what ? Necessary, 
answers Mr. Levy, " in order that freedom may be at the 
maximum." Supposing for the moment that this is true, 
another inquiry suggests itself : Is the absolute maximum of 
freedom an end to be attained at any cost 2 I regard liberty as 
the chief essential to man's happiness, and therefore as the 
most important thing in the world, and I certainly want as 
much of it as I can get. But I cannot see that it concerns me 


much whether the aggregate amount of liberty enjoyed by all 
individuals added together is at its maximum or a little below 
it, if I, as one individual, am to have little or none of this ag- 
gregate. If, however, I am to have as much liberty as others, 
and if others are to have as much as I, then, feeling secure in 
what we have, it will behoove us all undoubtedly to try to 
attain the maximum of liberty compatible with this condition 
of equality. Which brings us back to the familiar law of 
equal liberty, — the greatest amount of individual liberty com- 
patible with the equality of liberty. But this maximum of 
liberty is a very different thing from that which is to be at- 
tained, according to the hypothesis, only by violating equality 
of liberty. For, certainly, to coerce the peaceful non-co-oper- 
ator is to violate equality of liberty. If my neighbor believes 
in co-operation and I do not, and if he has liberty to choose 
to co-operate while I have no liberty to choose not to co-oper- 
ate, then there is no equality of liberty between us. Mr. 
Levy's position is analogous to that of a man who should 
propose to despoil certain individuals of peacefully and hon- 
estly acquired wealth on the ground that such spoliation is 
necessary in order that wealth may be at the maximum. Of 
course Mr. Levy would answer to this that the hypothesis is 
absurd, and that the maximum could not be so attained ; but 
he clearly would have to admit, if pressed, that, even if it 
could, the end is not important enough to justify such means. 
To be logical he must make the same admission regarding 
his own proposition. 

But, after all, is the hypothesis any more absurd in the one 
case than in the other ? I think not. It seems to me just as 
impossible to attain the maximum of liberty by depriving 
people of their liberty as to attain the maximum of wealth by 
depriving people of their wealth. In fact, it seems to me that 
in both cases the means is absolutely destructive of the end. 
Mr. Levy wishes to restrict the functions of government ; 
now, the compulsory co-operation that he advocates is the 
chief obstacle in the way of such restriction. To be sure, 
government restricted by the removal of this obstacle would 
no longer be government, as Mr. Levy is " quick-witted 
enough to see " (to return the compliment which he pays the 
Anarchists). But what of that ? It would still be a power 
for preventing those invasive acts which the people are practi- 
cally agreed in wanting to prevent. If it should attempt to 
go beyond this, it would be promptly checked by a diminution 
of the supplies. The power to cut off the supplies is the 
most effective weapon against tyranny. To say, as Mr. Levy 


does, that " taxation must be coextensive with government " 
is not the proper way to put it. It is government (or, rather, 
the State) that must and will be coextensive with taxation. 
When compulsory taxation is abolished, there will be no State, 
and the defensive institution that will succeed it will be 
steadily deterred from becoming an invasive institution 
through fear that the voluntary contributions will fall off. 
This constant motive for a voluntary defensive institution to 
keep itself trimmed down to the popular demand is itself the 
best possible safeguard against the bugbear of multitudinous 
rival political agencies which seems to haunt Mr. Levy. He 
says that the voluntary taxationists are victims of an illusion. 
The charge might be made against himself with much more 

My chief interest in Mr. Levy's article, however, is excite^ 
by his valid criticism of those Individualists who accept vol- 
untary taxation, but stop short, or think they stop short, of 
Anarchism, and I shall wait with much curiosity to see what 
Mr. Greevz Fisher, and especially Mr. Auberon Herbert, will 
have to say in reply. 

On the whole. Anarchists have more reason to be grateful to 
Mr. Levy for his article than to complain of it. It is at least 
an appeal for intellectual consistency on this subject, and as 
such it renders unquestionable service to the cause of plumb- 
line Anarchism. 


[_Liberiy, March 26, 1887.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

I have lately been involved in several discussions leading out of your 
refusal to pay your poll-tax, and I would like to get from you your 
reasons, so far as- they are public property, for that action. It seems to 
me that any good object could have been better and more easily obtained 
by compromising with the law, except the object of propagandism, and that 
in attaining that object you were going beyond the right into paths where 
you could not bid any one follow who was trying to live square with the 
truth, so far as we may know it. 

It seems to me that we owe our taxes to the State, whether we believe 
in it or not, so long as we remain within its borders, for the benefits 
which we willingly or unwillingly derive from it; that the only right course 
to be pursued is to leave any State whose laws we can no longer obey 
without violence to our own reason, and, if neeessary, people a desert 

44 ItiSTEAt) OF A B60K. 

island for ourselves ; for in staying in it and refusing to obey its authority, 
we are denying the right of others to combine on any system which they 
may deem right, and in trying to compel them to give up their contract, 
we are as far from right as tbey in trying to compel us to pay the taxes 
in which we do not believe. 

I think that you neglect the grand race experience which has given us 
our present governments when you wage war upon them all, and that a 
compromise with existing circumstances is as much a part of the right as 
following our own reason, for the existent is the induction of the race, and 
so long as our individual reasons are not all concordant it is entitled to its 
share of consideration, and those who leave it out do, in so far, wrong. 

Even granting strict individualism to be the ultimate goal of the race 
development, still you seem to me positively on a false path when you at- 
tempt — as your emphatic denial of all authority of existing government 
implies — tp violently substitute the end of development for its beginning. 

I think that these are my main points of objection, and hope that you 
will pardon my impertinence in addressing you, which did not come from 
any idle argumentative curiosity, but a genuine search for the truth, if it 
exists; and so I ventured to address you, as you by your action seem to 
me to accept the burden of proof in your contest with the existent. 

Yours truly, Frederic A. C. Perrike. 

7 Atlantic St., Newark, N. J., November ii, 1886. 

Mr. Perrine's criticism is an entirely pertinent one, and of 
the sort that I like to ansyv^er, though in this instance circum- 
stances have delayed the appearance of his letter. The gist 
of his position — -in fact, the whole of his argument — is con- 
tained in his second paragraph, and is based on the assump- 
tion that the State is precisely the thing which the Anarchists 
say it is not, — namely, a voluntary association of contracting 
individuals. Were it really such, I should have no quarrel 
with it, and I should admit the truth of Mr. Perrine's re- 
marks. For certainly such voluntary association would be 
entitled to enforce whatever regulations the contracting parties 
might agree upon within the limits of whatever territory, or 
divisions of territory, had been brought into the association by 
these parties as individual occupiers thereof, and no non- 
contracting party would have a right to enter or remain in 
this domain except upon such terms as the association might 
impose. But if, somewhere between these divisions of terri- 
tory, had lived, prior to the formation of the association, some 
individual on his homestead, who for any reason, wise or 
foolish, had declined to join in forming the association, the 
contracting parties would have had no right to evict him, com- 
pel him to join, make him pay for any incidental benefits that 
he might derive from proximity to their association, or restrict 
him in the exercise of any prsviously-enjoyed right to prevent 
him from reaping these benefits. Now, voluntary association 
necessarily involving the right of secession, any seceding mem- 


ber would naturally. fall back into the position and upon the 
rights of the individual above described, who refused to join 
at all. So much, then, for the attitude of the individual 
toward any voluntary association surrounding him, his support 
thereof evidently depending upon his approval or disapproval 
of its objects, his view of its efficiency in attaining them, and 
his estimate of the advantages and disadvantages involved in 
joining, seceding, or abstaining. But no individual to-day 
finds himself under any such circumstances. The States in 
the midst of which he lives cover all the ground there is, af- 
fording him no escape, and are not voluntary associations, but 
gigantic usurpations. There is not one of them which did 
not result from the agreement of a larger or smaller number 
of individuals, inspired sometimes no doubt by kindly, but 
oftener by malevolent, designs, to declare all the territory and 
persons within certain boundaries a nation which every one 
of these persons must support, and to whose will, expressed 
through its sovereign legislators and administrators no matter 
how chosen, every one of them must submit. Such an insti- 
tution is sheer tyranny, and has no rights which any individual 
is bound to respect ; on the contrary, every individual who 
understands his rights and values his liberties will do his best 
to overthrow it. I think it must now be plain to Mr. 
Perrine why I do not feel bound either to pay taxes or to em- 
igrate. Whether I will pay them or not is another question, — 
one of expediency. My object in refusing has been, as Mr. 
Perrine suggests, propagandism, and in the receipt of Mr. 
Perrine's letter I find evidence of the adaptation of this policy 
to that end. Propagandism is the only motive that I can urge 
for isolated individual resistance to taxation. But out of 
propagandism by this and many other methods I expect there 
ultimately will develop the organization of a determined body 
of men and women who will effectively, though passively, re- 
sist taxation, not simply for propagandism, but to directly 
cripple their oppressors. This is the extent of the only " vio- 
lent substitution of end for beginning " which I can plead 
guilty of advocating, and, if the end can be " better and more 
easily obtained " in any other way, I should like to have it 
pointed out. The " grand race experience " which Mr. Per- 
rine thinks I neglect is a very imposing phrase, on hearing 
which one is moved to lie down in prostrate submission ; but 
whoever first chances to take a closer look will see that it is 
but one of those spooks of which Tak Kak* tells us. Nearly 

*A writer for Liberty who has devoted much space to exposition of the 
philosophy of Egoism. 



all the evils with which mankind was ever afflicted were prod- 
ucts of this "grand race experience," and I am not aware 
that any were ever abolished by showing it any unnecessary 
reverence. We will bow to it when we must ; we will "com- 
promise with existing circumstances " when we have to ; but 
at all other times we will follow our reason and the plumb-line. 


\_L,ibei'ty, April 9, 1887.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

Please accept my thanks for your candid answer to my letter of No- 
vember II, 1 886. It contains, however, some points which do not seem 
to me conclusive. The first position to which I object is your statement 
that voluntary association necessarily involves the right of secession ; 
hereby you deny the right of any people to combine on a constitution 
which denies that right of secession, and in doing so attempt to force 
upon them your own idea of right. You assume the case of a new State 
attempting to impose its laws upon a former settler in the country, and 
say that they have no right to do so ; I agree with you, but have I not as 
much reason for assuming a State including no previous settler's home- 
stead and voluntarily agreeing to waive all right of secession from the 
vote of the majority ? In any such State I claim, then, that any member 
becoming an Anarchist, or holding any views differing from those of the 
general body, is only right in applying them within the laws of the ma- 
jority. I 

Such seems to me to represent the condition of these United States ; 
there is very little, if any, record of any man denying the right of the 
majority at their foundation, and, in the absence of any such denial, we 
are forced to the conclusion that the association and the passage of the 
majority rules were voluntary, and, as I said before, resistance to their 
government beyond the legal means by an inhabitant is practically deny- 
ing the right of the others to waive the right of secession on entering 
into a contract. The denial of any such right seems to me to be irra- 

Of course, none of this applies to the Indians, who never did and 
never will come into the government. I do not, however, think that 
their case invalidates the argument. 

In the second place, I object to your quotation of my phrase, " grand 
race experience," as grandiloquent. If we have anything grand, it is 
this " race experience " ; denying its grandeur, you either deny the gran- 
deur and dignity of Man, or else, as you seem to do, you look back 
fondly to some past happy state in some " Happy Valley " of Eden from 
which man has been falling till now he can say, "All the evils with which 
mankind was ever afflicted were products of this ' grand race experi- 
ence.' " It does indeed seem to me to be to you a " spook " and more : 
an ogre. The Devil going about devouring all good, rather than, as it 
seems to me, the manifestation of Divinity, — the divinity of Man, which 

The iNDivibUAt, sociEtY, And the state. 4f 

has produced, not alone the evil in us, but has produced us as we are, 
with ail our good and ill combined. 

It is the force which is as surely leading us up to Anarchy and beyond 
as it has led us from the star-dust into manhood. It is the personifica- 
tion of our evolution, and, while no man may either advance or retard 
that evolution to any very considerable extent, still it seems to me that 
much more can be accomplished by acting with it than across its p^th, 
even though we may seem to be steering straight towards the harbor for 
which it is tacking. 

The other night I attended a meeting of the Commonwealth Club of 
New York City, and there listened to the reading and discussion of a 
paper by Mr. Bishop, of the Post, on the effects of bribery at elections, 
concerning the amount of which Mr. Wm. M. Ivins had given so many 
startling figures at an earlier meeting. Mr. Bishop recited the long list 
of party leaders, and characterized them in their professions and prac- 

The whole unsavory story, only too familiar to us all, did not daunt 
him in his belief that the government is a part of the true curve of de- 
velopment, but only incited the proposal of a remedy, which consisted in 
substituting the State for the party machine in the distribution of the 
ballots and in the enactment of more stringent bribery and undue influ- 
ence acts, — in fact, a series of laws similar to those English laws of Sir 
Henry James, which are in force there at the present time and which 
seem to act to a certain extent beneficially. 

In closing, after recognizing the difficulty in passing any reform 
measures, he quoted Gladstone's memorable appeal to the future for his 
vindication, claiming a common cause with all reformers and with Time, 
which is fighting for them. 

The reading of this paper was followed by an address from Mr. Simon 
Sterne, advocating the minority representation of Mill, and one by Mr. 
Turner, who appealed for an open ballot. 

Immediately Mr. Ivins rose, and, after showing that no open ballot 
could be free, as even asking a man for his vote is a form of coercion, 
proceeded on the lines of Mr. Bishop's closing quotation to show that 
the reform then proposed was but a link in the long chain which is leading 
us irresistibly onward ; that not in State supervision, or in minority repre- 
sentation, or in any measure at present proposed, was there an adequate 
solution of the problem, but that they were each logical steps in prog- 
ress, — progress which may end in a State Socialism or in Anarchy or 
in what not, but at any rate in Tie End which is right and inevitable. 
We cannot any of us turn far aside the course of this progress, however 
we may act. We can but put our shoulder to the wheel and give a little 
push onwards according to our little strength. Except at great epochs, 
the extremists diminish their effect by diminishing their leverage ; the 
steady, every-day workers who strive for the right along the existing 
lines purify the moral tone of the times and pave the way for those great 
revolutions when the world seems to advance by great bounds into' the 

Should we not, then, strike hands with these men of the Common- 
wealth Club, and, burying our differences of ultimate aims, if differences 
exist, work in and for the present? 

I sat at that dinner with Republicans and Democrats, Free Traders and 
Protectionists, all absorbed with the one idea of advancement and working 
for that idea with heart and soul. Their influence will be felt, felt not only 
now, but in the future, even the future of a happy Anarchy; reaching out 

48 iMstEAb OF A eoOK. 

after and touching that state before some of its more uncompromising 

When the days are ripe for a revolution, then let there be no compro- 
mise; the compromise will come in spite of us. But to fly against the 
wall of an indolent public sentiment is folly, while each man, Anc.rchist 
or not, can do something towards the purification of the existent order of 
things, or at least should withhold the hand of hindrance from earnest 
workers in that field. Frederic A. C. Perrine. 

7 Atlantic Street, Newark, N. J., April i, 1887. 

When I said, in my previous reply to Mr. Perrine, that vol- 
untary association necessarily involves the right of secession, 
I did not deny the right of any individuals to go through the 
form of constituting themselves an association in which each 
member waives the right of secession. My assertion was 
simply meant to carry the idea that such a constitution, if any 
should be so idle as to adopt it, would be a mere form, which 
every decent man who was a party to it would hasten to vio- 
late and tread under foot as soon as he appreciated the enor- 
mity of his folly. Contract is a very serviceable and most 
important tool, but its usefulness has its limits ; no man can 
employ it for the abdication of his manhood. To indefinitely 
waive one's right of secession is to make one's self a slave. 
Now, no man can make himself so much a slave as to forfeit 
the right to issue his own emancipation proclamation. Indi- 
viduality and its right of assertion are indestructible except 
by death. Hence any signer of such a constitution as that 
supposed who should afterwards become an Anarchist would 
be fully justified in the use of any means that would protect 
him from attempts to coerce him in the name of that consti- 
tution. But even if this were not so ; if men were really 
under olbligation to keep impossible contracts, — there would 
still be no inference to be drawn therefrom regarding the rela- 
tions of the United States to its so-called citizens. To assert 
that the United States constitution is similar to that of the 
hypothesis is an extremely wild remark. Mr. Perrine can 
readily find this out by reading Lysander Spooner's " Letter 
to Grover Cleveland." That masterly document will tell him 
what the United States constitution is and just how binding 
it is on anybody. But if the United States constitution were 
a voluntary contract of the nature described above, it would 
still remain for Mr. Perrine to tell us why those who failed 
to repudiate it are bound, by such failure, to comply with it, 
or why the assent of those who entered into it is binding upon 
people who were then unborn, or what right the contracting 
parties, if there were any, had to claim jurisdiction and sov- 


ereign power over that vast section of the planet which has 
since been known as the United States of America and over 
all the persons contained therein, instead of over themselves 
simply and such lands as they personally occupied and used. 
These are points which he utterly ignores. His reasoning 
consists of independent propositions between which there are 
no logical links. Now, as to the "grand race experience." 
It is perfectly true that, if we have anything grand, it is this, 
but it is no less true that, if we have anything base, it is this. 
It is all we have, and, being all, includes all, both grand and 
base. I do not deny man's grandeur, neither do I deny his 
degradation; consequently I neither accept nor reject all that 
he has been and done. I try to use my reason for the purpose 
of discrimination, instead of blindly obeying any divinity, even 
that of man. We should not worship this race experience by 
imitation and repetitipn, but should strive to profit by its mis- 
takes and avoid them in future. Far from believing in any 
Edenic state, I yield to no man in my strict adherence to the 
theory of evolution, but evolution is "leading us up to An- 
archy " simply because it has already led us in nearly every 
other direction and made a failure of it. Evolution like na- 
ture, of which it is the instrument or process, is extremely 
wasteful and short-sighted. Let us not imitate its wastefulness 
or even tolerate it if we can help it ; let us rather use our 
brains for the guidance of evolution in the path of economy. 
Evolution left to itself will sooner or later eliminate every 
other social form and leave us Anarchy. But evolution 
guided will try to discover the common element in its past 
failures, summarily reject everything having this element, and 
straightway accept Anarchy, which has it not. Because we 
are the products of evolution we are not therefore to be its 
puppets. On the contrary, as our intelligence grows, we are to 
be more and more its masters. It is just because we let it 
master us, just because we strive to act with it rather than 
across its path, just because we dilly-dally and shilly-shally 
and fritter away our time, for instance, over secret ballots, 
open ballots, and the like, instead of treating the whole matter 
of the suffrage from the standpoint of principle, that we do in- 
deed "pave the way," much to our sorrow, "for those great 
revolutions " and " great epochs " when extremists suddenly 
get the upper hand. Great epochs, indeed ! Great disasters 
rather, which it behooves us vigilantly to avoid. But how ? 
By being extremists now. If there were more extremists in 
evolutionary periods, there would be no revolutionary periods. 
There is no lesson more important for mankind to learn than 


that. Until it is learned, Mr. Perrine will talk in vain about 
the divinity of man, for every day will make it more patent 
that his god is but a jumping-jack. 


\_Literty, July i6, 1887.] 

To the Editor of Liberty :' 

I suppose I should feel completely swamped by the great waves of 
satire which have rolled over my head from all directions but the front. 

Still I feel able to lift my hand, and make the motion of scissors. 

I have had the fallacy of a part of my argument so clearly pointed out 
to me by another than Liberty that I did not think it would be necessary 
for its editor to go so far around my position as to deny the sanctity of 
contract in order to refute me. 

Indeed, my only hope of Liberty now is that it will define some of its 
own positions. 

I have heard a great deal of "spooks " and " plumb-lines," but I can^ 
not clearly see the reason that contract has ceased being a "plumb- 
line " and become a " spook," unless we have to allow that much liberty 
for an argument. 

Will you please explain what safety there may be in an individualistic 
community where it becomes each man's duty to break all contracts as 
soon as he has become convinced that they were made foolishly ? 

Again, it being the duty of the individuals to break contracts made 
with each other, I cannot clearly see how it becomes an act of despica- 
ble despotism for the Republic to break contracts made with the Crow 
Indians, unless the ideal community is that in which we all become des- 
picable despots and where we amuse ourselves by calling each other 
hard names. 

Indeed, as I have said twice before, you seem to me to deny to others 
the right to make and carry out their own contracts unless these con- 
tracts meet with your approval. 

I am aware now of my error in assuming that the authority of the 
State rested historically on any social contract, and those points which 
were brought in in your reply as secondary are the main objections to 
my position. 

The true authority of the State rests, as Hearn shows in his " Aryan 
Household," not on contract, but on its development ; a point at which 
I hinted, but did not clearly develop. 

However, I do not feel warranted in entering with you into any dis- 
cussion from that standpoint till I am able to find out more clearly what 
Liberty means by development. In your reply to me, you seem to think 
of it as a sort of cut-and-try process ; this may be a Boston idea ab- 
sorbed from the " Monday Lectures," but I think that it is hardly war- 
ranted by either Darwin or Spencer. 

I tried in both of my letters to insist on the existence of a general line 
of development which is almost outside the power of individuals, and 
which is optimistic. By its being "optimistic"! mean that, on the 


principle of the survival of the fittest, our present condition is the best 
that it is possible for us to have attained. You do not deny man's divin- 
ity, " neither do you deny his degradation"; from what has man been 
degraded ? You do not accept an Edenic state ; then what do you mean 
by " man's degradation "? 

The idea of development which admits of a degradation and which 
expects Liberty's followers to arrest the " wasteful process " which has 
already made trial of everything else, and is now in despair about to 
make the experiment of Anarchy is something so new to me that I must 
ask for a more complete exposition of the system. 

Frederic A. C. Perrink. 
Newark, N. J. 

Mr. Perrine should read more carefully. I have never said 
that it is " each man's duty to break all contracts as soon as 
he has become convinced that they were made foolishly." 
What I said was that, if a man should sign a contract to part 
with his liberty forever, he would violate it as soon as he saw 
the enormity of his folly. Because I believe that some prom- 
ises are better broken than kept, it does not follow that I think 
it wise always to break a foolish promise. On the contrary, I 
deem the keeping of promises such an important matter that 
only in the extremest cases would I approve their violation. 
It is of such vital consequence ti at associates should be able 
to rely upon each other that it is better never to do anything 
to weaken this confidence except when it can be maintained 
only at the expense of some consideration of even greater im- 
portance. I mean by evolution just what Darwin means by it, 
— namely, the process of selection by which, out of all the 
variations that occur from any cause whatever, only those are 
preserved which are best adapted to the environment. Inas- 
much as the variations that perish vastly outnumber those 
that survive, this process is extremely wasteful, but human in- 
telligence can greatly lessen the waste. I am perfectly willing 
to admit its optimism, if by optimism is meant the doctrine 
that everything is for the best under the circumstances. Opti- 
mism so defined is nothing more than the doctrine of necessity. 
As to the word "degradation," evidently Mr. Perrine is. una- 
ware of all its meanings. By its derivation it implies descent 
from something higher, but it is also used by the best English 
writers to express a low condition regardless of what preceded 
it. It was in the latter sense that I used it. 



[Liberty, August 19, 1882.] 

Mr. B. W. Ball writes the best articles that appear in the 
" Index," which is not saying much, and among the best that 
appear in any of the weekHes, which is saying a good deal. 
We were the more gratified, therefore, to find him treating in 
a recent number the incipient, but increasing, opposition to the 
existence of the State. He at least is clear-sighted enough 
not to underrate the importance of the advent into social and 
political agitation of so straightforward, consistent, unterrified, 
determined, and, withal, philosophically rooted a factor as 
modern Anarchism, although his editorial chief, Mr. Under- 
wood, declares that the issue which the Anarchists present 
" admits of no discussion." 

But even Mr. Ball shows, by his article on "Anti-State The- 
orists," that, despite his promptriess to discover and be im- 
pressed by the appearance of this new movement, he has as yet 
studied it too superficially to know anything of the groundwork 
of the thought which produced, animates, and guides it. In- 
deed this first shot of his flies so wide of the mark that cer- 
tain incidental phrases indicative of the object of his aim 
were needed to reassure us that Anarchism really was his target. 
In a word, he has opened fire on the Anarchists without in- 
quiring where we stand. 

Where, then, does he suppose us to stand ? His central 
argument against us, stated briefly, is this : Where crime exists, 
force must exist to repress it. Who denies it ? Certainly not 
Liberty; certainly not the Anarchists. Anarchism is not a 
revival of non-resistance, although there may be non-resistants 
in its ranks. The direction of Mr. Ball's attack implies that 
we would let robbery, rape, and murder make havoc in the 
community without lifting a finger to stay their brutal, bloody 
work. On the contrary, we are the sternest enemies of inva- 
sion of person and property, and, although chiefly busy in 
destroying the causes thereof, have no scruples against such 
heroic treatment of its immediate manifestations as circum- 
stances and wisdom may dictate. It is true that we look for- 
ward to the ultimate disappearance of the necessity of force 
even for the purpose of repressing crime, but this, though in- 
volved in it as a necessary result, is by no means a necessary 
condition of the abolition of the State. 

In opposing the State, therefore, we do not deny Mr. Ball's 


proposition, but distinctly affirm and emphasize it. We make 
war upon the State as the chief invader of person and prop- 
erty, as the cause of substantially all the crime and misery 
that exist, as itself the most gigantic criminal extant. It man- 
ufactures criminals much faster than it punishes them. It 
exists to create and sustain the privileges which produce eco- 
nomic and social chaos. It is the sole support of the monop- 
olies which concentrate wealth and learning in the hands of 
a few and disperse poverty and ignorance among the masses, 
to the increase of which inequality the increase of crime is 
directly proportional. It protects a minority in plundering 
the majority by methods too subtle to be understood by the 
victims, and then punishes such unruly members of the major- 
ity as attempt to plunder others by methods too simple and 
straightforward to be recognized by the State as legitimate, 
crowning its outrages by deluding scholars and philosophers 
of Mr. Ball's stamp into pleading, as an excuse for its infa- 
mous existence, the necessity of repressing the crime which 
it steadily creates. 

Mr. Ball, — to his honor be it said, — during anti-slavery days, 
was a steadfast abolitionist. He earnestly desired the aboli- 
tion of slavery. Doubtless he remembers how often he was 
met with the argument that slavery was necessary to keep the 
unlettered blacks out of mischief, and that it would be unsafe 
to give freedom to such a mass of ignorance. Mr. Ball in those 
days saw through the sophistry of such reasoning, and knew 
that those who urged it did so to give some color of moral jus- 
tification to their conduct in living in luxury on the enforced 
toil of slaves. He probably was wont to answer them some- 
thing after this fashion: "It is the institution of slavery that 
keeps the blacks in ignorance, and to justify slavery on the 
ground of their ignorance is to reason in a circle and beg the 
very question at issue." 

To-day Mr. Ball — -again to his honor be it said — is a relig- 
ious abolitionist. He earnestly desires the abolition, or at least 
the disappearance, of the Church. How frequently he must 
meet or hear of priests who, while willing to privately admit 
that the doctrines of the Church are a bundle of delusions, ar- 
gue that the Church is necessary to keep the superstition-ridden 
masses in order, and that their release from the mental subjec- 
tion in which it holds them would be equivalent to their pre- 
cipitation into unbridled dissipation, libertinism, and ultimate 
ruin. Mr. Ball sees clearly through the fallacy of S,ll such logic, 
and knows that those who use it do so to gain a moral footing 
on which to statid while collecting their fees from the poor 


fools who know no better than to pay them. We can fancy 
him replying with pardonable indignation: " Cunning knaves, 
you know very well that it is your Church that saturates the 
people with superstition, and that to justify its existence on 
the ground of their superstition is to put the cart before the 
horse and assume the very point in dispute." 

Now, we Anarchists are political abolitionists. We earnestly 
desire the abolition of the State. Our position on this ques- 
tion is parallel in most respects to those of the Church aboli- 
tionists and the slavery abolitionists. But in this case Mr. 
Ball^ — to his disgrace be it said — takes the side of the tyrants 
against the abolitionists, and raises the cry so frequently raised 
against him: The State is necessary to keep thieves and mur- 
derers in subjection, and, were it not for the State, we should 
all be garroted in the streets and have our throats cut in our 
beds. As Mr. Ball saw through the sophistry of his opponents, 
so we see through his, precisely similar to theirs, though we 
know that not he, but the capitalists use it to blind the people 
to the real object of the institution by which they are able to 
extort from labor the bulk of its products. We answer him as 
he did them, and in no very patient mood: Can you not see 
that it is the State that creates the conditions which give birth 
to thieves and murderers, and that to justify its existence on 
the ground of the prevalence of theft and murder is a logical 
process every whit as absurd as those used to defeat your 
eftorts to abolish slavery and the Church ? 

Once for all, then, we are not opposed to the punishment of 
thieves and murderers; we are opposed to their manufacture. 
Right here Mr. Ball must attack us, or not at all. When next 
he writes on Anarchism, let him answer these questions : 

Are not the laboring classes deprived of their earnings by 
usury in its tlijee forms, — interest, rent, and profit? 

Is not such deprivation the principal cause of poverty ? 

Is not poverty, directly or indirectly, the principal cause of 
illegal crime? 

Is not usury dependent upon monopoly, and especially upon 
the land and money monopolies ? 

Could these monopolies exist without the State at their back ? 

Does not by far the larger part of the work of the State con- 
sist in establishing and sustaining these monopolies and other 
results of special legislation ? 

Would not the abolition of these invasive functions of the 
State lead gradually to the disappearance of crime ? 

If so, would not the disappearance of crime render the pro- 
tective functions of the State superfluous ? • 


In that case, would not the State have been entirely- 
abolished ? * 

Would not this be the realization of Anarchy and the ful- 
filment of Proudhon's prophecy of "the dissolution of govern- 
ment in the economic organism "? 

To each of these questions we answer: Yes. That answer 
constitutes the ground on which we stand and from which we 
refuse to be drawn away. We invite Mr. Ball to meet us on ft. 
and whip us if he can. 


{Liieriy, October 24, 1885.] 

To the Editor of Liberty: 
Will you give direct and explicit answers to the following questions ? 

I certainly will, wherever the questions are direct and 

Does Anarchism recognize the right of one individual or any number 
of individuals to determine what course of action is just or unjust for 
others ? 

Yes, if by the word unjust is meant invasive; otherwise, no. 
Anarchism recognizes the right of one individual or any num- 
ber of individuals to determine that no man shall invade the 
equal liberty of his fellow; beyond this it recognizes no right 
of control over individual conduct. 

Does it recognize the right to restrain or control their actions, what- 
ever they may be ? 

See previous answer. 

Does it recognize the right to arrest, try, convict, and punish for 
wrong doing ? 

Yes, if by the words wrong doing is meant invasion; other- 
wise, no. 

Does it believe in jury trial ? 

Anarchism, as such, neither believes nor disbelieves in jury 

* In this series of questions the word " State " is used in a sense inclu- 
sive of voluntary protective associations, whereas in all other parts o:" 
this volume it is used in a sense exclusive thereof. Attention is called 
to this inconsistency in terminology, in order to prevent misunderstand,- 


trial; it is a matter of expediency. For myself, I am inclined 
to favor it. 

If so, how is the jury to be selected ? 

Another matter of expediency. Speaking for myself again, 
I think the jury should be selected by drawing twelve names 
by lot from a wheel containing the names of all the citizens 
in the community, — jury service, of course, not to be compul- 
sory, though it may rightfully be made, if it should seem best, 
a condition of membership in a voluntary association. 

Does it propose prisons, or other places of confinement, for such as 
prove unsafe ? 

Another matter of expediency. If it can find no better in- 
strument of resistance to invasion. Anarchism will use prisons. 

Does it propose taxation to support the tribunals of justice, and these 
places of confinement and restraint ? 

Anarchism proposes to deprive no individual of his property, 
or any portion of it, without his consent, unless the individual 
is an invader, in which case Anarchism will take enough of his 
property from him to repair the damage done by his invasion. 
Contribution to the support of certain things may, like jury 
service, rightfully be made a condition of membership in a 
voluntary association. 

How is justice to be determined in a given case ? 

This question not being explicit, I cannot answer it explic- 
itly. I can only say that justice is to be determined on the 
principle of the equal liberty of all, and by such mechanism as 
may prove best fitted to secure its object. 

Will Anarchists wait till all who know anything about it are agreed ? 

This question is grammatically defective. It is not clear 
what " it " refers to. It may refer to justice in the previous 
question, or it may refer to Anarchism, or it may refer to some 
conception hidden in the recesses of the writer's bra:n. At a 
venture I will make this assertion, hoping it may hit tne mark. 
When Anarchists are agreed in numbers sufficient to enable 
them to accomplish whatever special work lies before them, 
they will probably go about it. 

Will they take the majority rule ? Or will they sustain a small fraction 
in their findings ? 

Inasmuch as Anarchistic associations recognize the right of 
secession, they may utilize the ballot, if they see fit to do so. 
If the question decided by ballot is so vital that the minority 



thinks it more important to carry out its own views than to 
preserve common action, the minority can withdraw. In no 
case can a minority, however small, be governed against its 

Does Anarchism mean the observance and enforcement of natural law, 
so far as can be discovered, or does it mean the opposite or som.ething 
else ? 

Anarchism does mean exactly the observance and enforce- 
ment of the natural law of Liberty, and it does not mean the 
opposite or anything else. 

If it means that all such as do not conform to the natural law, as under- 
stood by the masses, shall be made to suffer through the machinery of 
organized authority, no matter under what name it goes, it is human 
government as really as anything we now have. 

Anarchism knows nothing about " natural law as understood 
by the masses." It means the observance and enforcement by 
each individual of the natural law of Liberty as understood 
by himself. When a number of individuals who understand 
this natural law to mean the equal liberty of all organize on a 
voluntary basis to resist the invasion of this liberty, they form a 
very different thing from any human government we now have. 
They do not form a government at all ; they organize a rebellion 
against government. For government is invasion, and nothing 
else ; and resistance to invasion is the antithesis of govern- 
ment. All the organized governments of to day are such be- 
cause they are invasive. In the first place, all their acts are 
indirectly invasive, because dependent upon the primary in- 
vasion called taxation ; and, in the second place, by far the 
greater number of their acts are directly invasive, because di- 
rected, not to the restraint of invaders, but to the denial of 
freedom to the people in their industrial, commercial, social, 
domestic, and individual lives. No man with brains in his head 
can honestly say that such institutions are identical in their 
nature with voluntary associations, supported by voluntary 
contributions, which confine themselves to resisting invasion. 

If it means that the undeveloped and vicious shall not be interfered 
with, it means that the world shall suffer all the disorder and crime that 
depravity unhindered can consummate. 

S. Blodgett. 
Grahamville, Florida. 

I hope that ray readers will take in Mr. Blodgett's final as- 
sertion in all its length and breadth and depth. Just see what 
it says. It says that penal institutions are the only promoters 
of virtue- Education goes for nothing ; example goes for 


nothing ; public opinion goes for nothing ; social ostracism 
goes for nothing ; freedom goes for nothing ; competition 
goes for nothing ; increase of material welfare goes for nothing; 
decrease of temptation goes for nothing ; health goes for 
nothing ; approximate equality of conditions goes for nothing : 
all these are utterly powerless as preventives or curatives of 
immorality^ The only forces on earth that tend to develop 
the undeveloped and to make the vicious virtuous are our 
judges, our jails, and our gibbets. Mr. Blodgett, I believe, 
repudiates the Christian doctrine that hell is the only safeguard 
of religious morality, but he re-creates it by affirming that a 
hell upon earth is the only safeguard of natural morality. 

Why do Mr. Blodgett and all those who agree with him so 
persistently disregard the constructive side of Anarchism ? The 
, chief claim of Anarchism for its principles is that the abolition 
of legal monopoly will so transform social conditions that ignor- 
ance, vice, and crime will gradually disappear. However often 
this may be stated and however definitely it may be elabor- 
ated, the Blodgetts will approach you, apparently gravely un- 
conscious that any remark has been made, and say : " If there 
are no policemen, the criminal classes will run riot." Tell 
them that, when the system of commercial cannibalism which 
rests on legal privilege disappears, cutthroats will disappear 
with it, and they will not deny it or attempt to disprove it, but 
they will first blink at you a moment with their owl-like eyes, 
and then from out their mouths will come the old, familiar 
hoot : " Tu-whit ! tu-whoo ! If a ruffian tries to cut your throat, 
what are you going to do about it ? Tu-whit ! tu-whoo ! " 


[ Liberty^ December 31, 1887.] 

Old readers of this paper will remember the appearance in 
its columns, about two years ago, of a series of questions pro- 
pounded by the writer of the following letter and accompanied 
by editorial answers- To-day my interrogator questions me 
further ; this time, however, no longer as a confident comba- 
tant, but as an earnest inquirer. As I replied to him then ac- 
cording to his pugnacity, so I reply to him now according to 
his friendliness, 

THE Individual, sociEtv, AND the State. 59 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

Will you please insert the following questions in your paper with your 
answers thereto, and oblige an ethical, political, and humanitarian student ? 

1. Do you, as an Anarchist, believe any one human being ever has the 
right to judge for another what he ought or ought not to do ? 

The terms of this question need definition. Assuming, 
however, the word " right " to be used in the sense of the 
limit which the principle of equal liberty logically places upon 
might, and the phrase "judge for another "to include not 
only the formation of judgment but the enforcement thereof, 
and the word " ought " to be equivalent to must or shall, I an- 
swer : Yes. But the only cases in which a human being ever 
has such right over another are those in which the other's 
doing or failure to do involves an overstepping of the limit upor^ 
might just referred to. That is what was meant when it was 
said in an early number of Liberty that " man's only duty is 
to respect others' rights." It might well have been added that 
man's only right over others is to enforce that duty. 

2. Do you believe any number combined ever have such a right ? 

Yes. The right of any number combined is whatever right 
the individuals combining possess and voluntarily delegate to 
it. It follows from this, and from the previous answer, that, 
as individuals sometimes have the right in question, so a num- 
ber combined may have it. 

3. Do you believe one, or any number, ever have the right to prevent 
another from doing as he pleases ? 

Yes. This question is answered by the two previous an- 
swers taken together. 

4. Do you believe it admissible, as an Anarchist, to use what influence 
can be exerted without the aid of brute force to induce one to live as 
seems to you best ? 

Please explain what influence, if any, you think might be employed in 
harmony with Anarchistic principles. 

Yes. The influence of reason ; the influence of persuasion ; 
the influence of attraction ; the influence of education ; the 
influence of example ; the influence of public opinion ; the in- 
fluence of social ostracism ; the influence of unhampered eco- 
nomic forces ; the influence of better prospects ; and doubtless 
other influences which do not now occur to me. 

5. Do you believe there is such a thing as private ownership of prop- 
erty, viewed from an Anarchistic standpoint ? If so, please give a way or 
rule to determine whether one owns a thing or not. 

Yes. Anarchism being neither more nor less than the prin- 
ciple of equal liberty, property, in an Anarchistic society, must 


accord with this principle. The only form of property which 
meets this condition is that which secures each in the posses- 
sion of his own products, or of such products of others as he 
may have obtained unconditionally without the use of fraud 
or force, and in the realization of all titles to such products 
which he may hold by virtue of free contract with others. 
Possession, unvitiated by fraud or force, of values to which no 
one else holds a title unvitiated by fraud or force, and the posses- 
sion of similarly unvitiated titles to values, constitute the An- 
archistic criterion of ownership. By fraud I do not mean 
that which is simply contrary to equity, but deceit and false 
pretence in all their forms. 

, 6. Is it right to confine such as injure others and prove themselves un- 
safe to be at large ? If so, is there a way consistent with Anarchy to 
determine the nature of the confinement, and how long it shall continue ? 

Yes. Such confinement is sometimes right because it is 
sometimes the wisest way of vindicating the right asserted in 
the answer to the first question. There are many ways con- 
sistent with Anarchy of determining the nature and duration 
of such confinement. Jury trial, in its original form, is one 
way, and in my judgment the best way yet devised. 

7. Are the good people under obligations to feed, clothe, and make 
comfortable such as they find it necessary to confine ? 

No. In other words, it is allowable to punish invaders by 
torture. But, if the "good " people are not fiends, they are 
not likely to defend themselves by torture until the penalties 
of death and tolerable confinement have shown themselves 
destitute of efficacy. 

I ask these questions partly for myself, and partly because I believe 
many others have met difficulties on the road to Anarchism which a 
rational, lucid answer would remove. 

Perhaps you have been over this ground many times, and may feel im- 
patient to find any one as much in the dark as I, but all would-be reform- 
ers have to keep reiterating their position to all new-comers, and I trust 
you will try and make everything clear to me, and to others who may be 
as unfortunate as myself. S. Blodgett. 

Grahamville, Florida. 

Time and space are the only limits to my willingness to an- 
swer intelligent questions regarding that science whose rudi- 
ments I profess to teach, and I trust that my efforts, on this 
occasion, may not prove entirely inadequate to the commend- 
able end which my very welcome correspondent had in view. 



\ [Ltierty, January 28, 1888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

I thank you for your courteous treatment of my questions in your issue 
of December 31, and, as you express a willingness in this direction, I will 
follow in the same line, and trust you will still think my questions are per- 
tinent and proper. 

Do you think property rights can inhere in anything not produced by 
the labor or aid of man ? 

You say, " Anarchism being neither more nor less than the principle of 
equal liberty," etc. Now, if government were so reformed as to confine 
its operations to the protection of "equal liberty," would you have any 
quarrel with it ? If so, what and why ? 

Will you please explain what "jury trial in its original form " was ? I 
never knew that it was ever essentially different from what it is now. 

S. Blodgett. 

I do not believe in any inherent right of property. Property 
is a social convention, and may assume many forms. Only 
that form of property can endure, however, which is based on 
the principle of equal liberty. All other forms must result in 
misery, crime, and conflict. The Anarchistic form of property 
has already been defined, in the previous answers to Mr. Blod- 
gett, as " that which secures each in the possession of his own 
products, or of such products of others as he may have obtained 
unconditionally without the use of fraud or force, and in 
the realization of all titles to such products which he inay hold 
by virtue of free contract with others." It will be seen from 
this definition that Anarchistic property concerns only prod- 
ucts. But anything is a product upon which human labor 
has been expended, whether it be a piece of iron or a piece of 

If " government " confined itself to the protection of equal 
liberty. Anarchists would have no quarrel with it ; but such 
protection they do not call government. Criticism of the An- 
archistic idea which does not consider Anarchistic definitions 
is futile. The Anarchist defines government as invasion, noth- 
ing more or less. Protection against invasion, then, is the 
opposite of government. Anarchists, in favoring the abolition 
of government, favor the abolition of invasion, not of protec- 

* It should be stated, however, that in the case of land, or of any other 
material the supply of which is so limited that all cannot hold it in un- 
limited quantities, Anarchism undertakes to protect no titles except such as 
are based on actual occupancy and use. 


tion against invasion. It may tend to a clearer understanding 
if I add that all States, to become non-invasive, must abandon 
first the primary act of invasion upon which all of them rest, — 
the collection of taxes by force, — and that Anarchists look up- 
on the change in social conditions which will result when 
economic freedom is allowed as far more efficiently protective 
against invasion than any machinery of restraint, in the ab- 
sence of economic freedom, possibly can be. 

Jury trial in its original form differed from its present forms 
both in the manner of selecting the jury and in the powers of 
the jury selected. It was originally selected by drawing twelve 
names from a wheel containing the names of the whole body 
of citizens, instead of by putting a special panel of jurors 
through a sifting process of examination ; and by its original 
powers it was judge, not of the facts alone, as is generally the 
case now, but of the law and the justice of the law and the ex- 
tent and nature of the penalty. More information regarding 
this matter may be found in Lysander Spooner's pamphlet, 
" Free Political Institutions." 


[Liberty, April 28, 1888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

I have one more question, and it does not occur to me now that I shall 
want to trouble you further in this way. 

You say: " I do not believe in any inherent right of property. Property 
is a social convention." 

Now, does Anarchism recognize the propriety of compelling individuals 
to regard social conventionalities ? 

S. Blodgett. 
Grahamville, Florida. 

Readers who desire to refresh their minds regarding the ser- 
ies of questions which the above includes should consult Nos. 
iiSandiiy. The answer to the first question in No. 115 is 
really an answer to the question now put. There I said that 
the only compulsion of individuals the propriety of which An- 
archism recognizes is that which compels invasive individuals 
to refrain from overstepping the principle of equal liberty. 
Now, equal liberty itself being a social convention (for there 
are no natural rights), it is obvious that Anarchism recognizes 
the propriety of compelling individuals to regard one social 
convention. But it does not follow from this that it recognizes 


the propriety of compelling individuals to regard any and all 
social conventions. Anarchism protects equal liberty (of which 
property based on labor is simply an expression in a particular 
sphere), not because it is a social convention, but because it is 
equal liberty, — that is, because it is Anarchism itself. An- 
archism may properly protect itself, but there its mission ends. 
This self-protection it must effect through voluntary associa- 
tion, however, and not through government; for to protect 
equal liberty through government is to invade equal liberty. 


{Liberty, June 9, i838.J 

To the Editor of Liberty: 

I do not write this with the idea that you will publish it, for the tardiness 
with which you inserted my last question indicates that you do not care for 
any more of me in your paper. You are too good a reasoner to not know 
that, if it is proper to interfere to compel people "to regard one social 
convention," it is not improper to force another, or all, providing there is 
any satisfaction in doing so. If " there are no natural rights," there is no 
occasion for conscientious or other scruples, providing the power exists. 
Therefore there is no guarantee that there will be even as much individual- 
ity permitted under Anarchistic rule as under the present plan, for the 
principle of human rights is now recognized, however far removed we may 
be from giving the true application. The " equal liberty" "social con- 
vention " catch-phrase can be stamped out as coolly as any other. There 
are but two views to take of any proposed action, — that of right and that 
of expediency, — and as you have knocked the idea of right out, the thing is 
narrowed to the lowest form of selfishness. There certainly can be no 
more reason why Anarchists, who deny every obligation on the ground of 
right, should be consistent in standing by the platform put forward when 
weak, than that ordinary political parties should stand by their promises 
made when out of power. 

I called " equal liberty "a "catch-phrase." It sounds nice, but when 
we criticise it, it is hollow. For instance, "equal liberty " may give every 
one the same opportunity to take freely from the same cabbage patch, the 
same meat barrel, and the same grain-bin. So long as no one interferes 
with another, he is not overstepping the principle of "equal liberty," but 
when one undertakes to keep others away, he is, and you can only justify 
the proscription by saying that one ought to have liberty there, and the 
others had not, — that those who did nothing in the production ought not to 
have " equal liberty " to appropriate. But if nobody has any "natural 
rights," then the thief not only does not interfere with the ' ' equal liberty " 
of others, but he does them no wrong. You have done well, considering 
your opportunity, but your cause is weak. You are mired and tangled in 
the web you have been weaving beyond material help. Still, I see a ray 
of hope for Anarchism. Just unite with the Christian Science metaphy- 
sicians, and the amalgamation will be an improvement. As I have looked 


it over, I am sure the chemical combination will be perfect, and the result 
will be the most pleasing nectar ever imbibed by suffering humanity. 

S. Blodgett. 

As Mr. Blodgett says, it is as proper to enforce one social 
convention as another " providing there is any satisfaction in 
doing so." But Anarchists, from the very fact that they are 
Anarchists, take no satisfaction in enforcing any social con- 
vention except that of equal liberty, that being the essence of 
their creed. Now, Mr. Blodgett asked me to define the sphere 
of force as viewed by Anarchism ; he did not ask me to define 
any other view of it. To say that an Anarchist is entitled to 
enforce all social conventions is to say that he is entitled to 
cease to be an Anarchist, which nobody denies. But if he 
should cease to be an Anarchist, the remaining Anarchists 
would still be entitled to stop him from invading them. I hope 
that Mr. Blodgett is a good enough reasoner to perceive this 
distinction, but I fear that he is not. 

It is true, also, that, if there are no natural rights, there is 
no occasion for conscientious scruples. But it is not true that 
there is no occasion for " other scruples." A scruple, accord- 
ing to Webster, is " hesitation as to action from the difficulty 
of determining what is right or expedient." Why should not 
disbelievers in natural rights hesitate on grounds of expedi- 
ency ? In other words, why should they be unscrupulous ? 

It is true, again, that Anarchism does not recognize the 
principle of human rights. But it recognizes human equality 
as a necessity of stable society. How, then, can it be charged 
with failing to guarantee individuality ? 

It is true, further, that equal liberty can be stamped out as 
coolly as anything else. But people who believe in it will not 
be likely to stamp it out. And Anarchists believe in it. 

It is true, still further, that there are only two standards of 
conduct, — right and expediency. But why does elimination 
of right narrow the thing down to the lowest form of selfish- 
ness ? Is expediency exclusive of the higher forms of selfish- 
ness ? I deem it expedient to be honest. Shall I not be 
honest, then, regardless of any idea of right ? Or is honesty 
the lowest form of selfishness ? 

It is far from true, however, that Anarchists have no more 
reason to stand by their platform than ordinary politicians 
have to stand by theirs. Anarchists desire the advantages of 
harmonious society and know that consistent adherence to 
their platform is the only way to get them, while ordinary pol- 
iticians desire only offices and "boodle," and make platforms 
simply to catch votes. Even if it were conceivable that 


hypocrites should step upon the Anarchistic platform simply 
for their temporary convenience, would that invalidate the 
principle of Anarchism ? Does Mr. Blodgett reject all good 
principles the moment they are embodied in party platforms 
by political tficksters ? 

General opportunity for all to take freely from the same 
cabbage patch is not equal liberty. As was happily pointed 
out some time ago by a writer for the New York Truth 
Seeker, whose article was copied into Liberty, equal liberty 
does not mean equal slavery or equal invasion. It means the 
largest amount of liberty compatible with equality and mu- 
tuality of respect, on the part of individuals living in society, 
for their respective spheres of action. To appropriate the 
cabbages which another has grown is not to respect his sphere 
of action. Hence equal liberty would recognize no such con- 
duct as proper. 

The sobriety with which Mr. Blodgett recently renewed his 
questions led me to believe that he did not relish the admix- 
ture of satire with argument. But the exquisite touch of 
irony with which he concludes the present letter seems to in- 
dicate the contrary. If so, let him say the word, and he shall 
be accommodated. The author of " Tu-Whit 1 Tu-Whoo ! " 
is not yet at his wits' end. 


[Liberty, Aug-. 4, t888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty: 

I was honest in the questions I asked concerning the foundation on 
which Anarchism is aiming to build. I had thought considerably on the 
matter, and read in Liberty as it came in my way, and while the ideal 
was fair to look upon, it seemed to me one must have a loose method of 
reasoning to suppose its practical realization possible. I also found that 
those of my acquaintance who favored the idea reasoned from the stand- 
point of an imaginary, instead of a real, humanity, which left their argu- 
ments on the subject of no practical value. 

I desired to see .what showing you could give, if put to the test. I 
was ready to become an Anarchist, if Anarchism could be made to ap- 
pear sensible, though I own I believed you would make the failure you 
have. In one thing I have been disappointed and pleased. You have 
had the manliness lo face the dilemma in which you found yourself, and 
published my last question, and my summing-up, subsequently. I will 
give you credit for straight work, and this is more than I expected to be 
able to do. 

66 Instead of a Boolt. 

When I wrote my last, I thought I was done, whether you published 
it or not, and I should have stopped there, if you had not published it, 
or, if you had published it, and simply made comments thereon, no mat- 
ter what those comments might have been ; but the challenge and threat 
bring me out once more. I will say on that, that I never thought of 
finding fault or being displeased with your " Tu-Whit ! Tu-Whoo ! " and 
that I do " relish the admixture of satire with argument " on fitting oc- 
casions. I am as much at home in a sea of controversy and irony as a 
fish is in water, so there is no occasion for your holding up out of sym- 
pathy for me. Just give me the intellectual thumps when you feel like it 
and can, and j'ou need take no pains to have them sugar-coated. 

And now for a fe\* words on your last remarks. You accept my state- 
ment that it is as proper to enforce one social convention as another, pro- 
vided there is any satisfaction in doing so. I find the difference between 
an Anarchist and a Governmentalist is nothing here. If there is any 
difference in the action of the two, it is not a difference in the principles 
which control it. There might be a difference in method, and a difference 
in the Mind oi social conventions which they wish to enforce. On both 
of these points I suppose I should have some sympathy with Anarchists 
like you. But when we prevent another from doing as he otherwise 
would, we govern him in that particular, and I see no advantage in deny- 
ing it, or in trying to find another term to express the fact. In my 
judgment it is better to not attempt to beat around the bush, but to state 
plainly the social conventions and rights (for such as me who believe in 
rights) we wish to enforce, and such restrictions as we wish to free the 
world from, and fight it out above board and on that line. 

You say "opportunity for all to take freely from the same cabbage 
patch is not equal liberty." If all have opportunity to take freely, I do 
not know how any one can have any greater liberty, and if all have all 
there is, it looks to me "equal." And further; I maintain that "equal 
slavery " is equal liberty. It is impossible to make one's slavery com- 
plete ; and no matter how small an amount of liberty is left, if the same 
amount is left for all, it is " equal liberty." Equal does not mean much 
or little, but to be on a par with others. "Equal liberty" is not the 
phrase to express what you are after, and you will have to try again, or 
let it go that your ideas are either muddled or inexpressible. 

It is also puzzling to know what you mean by " invasion." It cannot 
be you mean invasion of rights, because you claim there are no 
rights to invade. But perhaps you are having in view some " social con- 
vention " to be invaded. In any case, "equal invasion" Is "equal lib- 
erty." Suppose you do not " respect another's sphere of action," that 
want of respect does not limit his liberty ; it is not necessary for him to 
respect yours, and that leaves "equal liberty" in that direction. 

I am glad I opened this question as I did, for I think I get from 
what you have written a clue to your bottom feelings on it ; and if I do, 
we are not so far apart In aim as would appear, and I recognize that you 
may be of value in the reform world. I certainly hope that you may 
assist in loosening the grip of Government prerogatives relating to mat- 
ters purely personal. Here we can work together. S. Blodgett. 

I am not conscious that I have shown any special courage 
or honesty in my discussion vi'ith Mr. Blodgett ; perhaps this 
is because I am unconscious of having been confronted with 
any dilemma. If I have been as badly worsted as he seems 


to suppose, it is fortunate for my pride and mental peace that 
I do not know it. The " difference in the kind of social con- 
ventions which they wish to enforce " is the only difference I 
claim between Anarchists and Governmentalists ; -,t is quite 
difference enough, — in fact, exactly equal to the difference be- 
tween liberty and authority. To use the word government as 
meaning the enforcement of such social conventions as are 
unnecessary to the preservation of equal liberty seems to me, 
not beating around the bush, but a clear definition of terms. 
Others may use the word differently, and I have no quarrel 
with them for doing so as long as they refrain from interpret- 
ing my statements by their definitions. " Opportunity for all 
to take freely from the same cabbage patch is not equal lib- 
erty," because it is incompatible with another liberty,^the 
liberty to keep. Equal liberty, in the property sphere, is such 
a balance between the liberty to take and the liberty to keep 
that the two liberties may coexist without conflict or invasion. 
In a certain verbal sense it may be claimed that equal slavery 
is equal liberty; but nearly every one except Mr. Blodgett 
realizes that he who favors equal slavery favors the greatest 
amount of slavery compatible with equality, while he who 
favors equal liberty favors the greatest amount of liberty com- 
patible with equality. This is a case in which emphasis is 
everything. By " invasion " I mean the invasion of the indi- 
vidual sphere, which is bounded by the line inside of which 
liberty of action does not conflict with others' liberty of 
action. The upshot of this discussion seems to be, by his 
own confession, that heretofore Mr. Blodgett has miscon- 
ceived the position of the Anarchists, whereas now he under- 
stands it. In that view of the matter I concede his victory ; 
for in all intellectual controversy he is the real victor who 
gains the most light. 


[Liberty, February^ii, 1888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

I must take exception to the teaching that the infliction of injury upon 
aggressors is compatible with the principle of equal liberty to all. 

First, with an argument which is no argument, yet which has its force 
to those who have observed the growth of new ideas in their own minds ; 
how there comes first a revulsion against what is, then strong setitiment 
in favor of the opposite, and l&st only, and often not then until long- 


after, perhaps never, comes the possibility of rational justification of the 

Now, it is a matter of observation that liberty interpreted to include 
non-resistance meets with quick.welcome in many minds that are looking 
for better things, while liberty interpreted to mean our own liberty to 
compel others is to the same minds an unintelligible formula. 

And the reason of it would seem to be this, — that while the right to 
defence, and, if you will, to offence too, is equal to the power and the 
desire to defend or to offend, it has no more to do with the actions proper 
to man in a social state than the right of cannibalism, which undoubtedly 
also exists, when, having no other food, a man must feed on his com- 
panion or die himself. Saving that in this case, with the exercise of this 
right to eat him, a social condition with him no longer exists ; it is a re- 
vulsion to a state of warfare. 

Who is to judge of where the right to equal liberty is infringed? If 
each one is judge, why may not the pickpocket say, " You have right to 
imprison me for picking your pocket, 1 claim that as my natural liberty 
and I willingly grant you the liberty of picking mine In return — if you 
can. The right to pick pockets is co-extensive with the power to pick 
pockets, and you are committing an aggression in imprisoning me, rather 
than I in picking your packet." 

There is a difference between resistance and retaliation, and between 
resistance and anticipatory violence. Resistance may consist in barring 
a door, or raising a wall against an armed attack, or on behalf of others 
we may resist by interposing our own person to receive the attack. 

But when the attack is done and past, when the violence is over, when 
the murder perhaps is committed, by what right of resistance do we as- 
sume to retaliate in cold blood? 

Do we assume that a man who has killed once will kill again ? Such 
an assumption is wholly unjustifiable. 

Or, if it be admitted that such an one is more likely to kill a second 
time, do we kill him on a possibility that lies wholly in the future? 

Shall we say that he places himself outside of society, declares war 
upon it, and society in return makes warfare upon him and exterminates 
him ? Who then is to judge of all the rest of us whether we are suffi- 
ciently socialized to be permitted to exist ? If each is to retaliate where 
he conceives himself attacked, we remain in our present state of warfare. 

Furthermore, if I see one coming in a threatening attitude, with drawn 
revolver, shall I shoot first and kill him if I can ? 

Doubtless I may, and take the chances of his killing me ; but, in doing 
so, I cease to admit that he is an associate ; I join battle with him ; I ac- 
cept the fortune of war. 

Briefly, the argument may be expressed thus: In a social state no in- 
dividual can be regarded as outside the pale of society for any cause. 
Society must embrace all. 

He that takes pleasure in aggression is either undeveloped or a rever- 
sion to a former type, or his apparent aggression is really an attempt to 
resist what he conceives to be an injury to himself. 

In any of these cases counter-violence is wrong, — namely, it does not 
accomplish its purpose. 

If the aggressor thinks he is injured, the reasonable course is to ex- 
plain and apologize, even though no injury was meant. 

If the aggression be prompted by the mere pleasure of aggression, 
the delight in violence oi a past type, the reasonable course is to regard 
the aggressor asa diseased man, on a par with a lunatic, or dehriutn iK- 


mens patient. Confine him, but as medical treatment. Bind him, witlj 
no personal hatred of him in the ascendant. And, in confinement, so 
far from torturing him, treat him asare treated, or as ought to be treated, 
all sick and infirm, with the best food, with the best lodging, with kind- 
ness, with care, with love. 

This, I say, is rational treatment. 

It seems to me that the theory you advocate can produce nothing but 
what we see now. 

The people at large, for that purpose, if for no other, a voluntary as- 
sociation, hanged the Chicago men. The people believed with undoubted 
sincerity that they were in danger from violence on the part of the vic- 
tims. They investigated the justice of their belief by means which they 
thought adequate. They resisted by retaliatory violence. 

How can you by your principles blame them ? 

It seems to me, too, that the simple proposition is that to compel by 
violence is to govern, and that Anarchists, who protest against govern- 
ment, should begin by saying : We will govern nobody. We will do no 

If you care to print this, I ask one thing : Ma*ke no verbal criticisms. 
I am not a Christian, nor a teleologist, nor a moralist, and any slips of 
language must not be construed to mean that I am. Another thing I 
ask, subject to your approval. Do not refute me in the same issue. Per- 
haps I am wrong. If so, I wish to change my opinion. You, I assume, 
are as ready to change yours. 

But it will take a little time for either of us. 

John Beverley Robinson. 

If I could see that my silence for a fortnight could help 
either Mr. Robinson or myself to a change of opinion, I would 
certainly grant his last request. But it seems to me that, if 
either of us is open to conviction, such would be the very 
course to delay the change. I change my opinion when an ar- 
gument is opposed to it which I perceive to be valid and con- 
trolling. If it does not seem to me valid at first, it rarely 
seems otherwise after mere waiting. But if I try to answer it, 
I either destroy it because of its weakness, or cause, its strength 
to be made more palpable by provoking its restatement in an- 
other and clearer form. I should think the same must hold in 
Mr. Robinson's case, if he is writing his mature thought; if he 
is not, I should advise him to let it mature first and print it 
afterwards. There is, no doubt, something to be said in favor 
of allowing intervals between statements of opposing views, 
but solely from the reader's standpoint, not from that of the 
disputants. Such a plan encourages thought and compels the 
reader to frame some sort of answer for himself pending the 
rejoinder of the other side. But in the conduct of a journal 
this consideration, important as it is, is not the only one to be 
thought of. There are others, and they all tell in favor of the 
Bnetho(J of immediate reply. First, there is the consideration 


of space, one third of which can generally be saved by avoid- 
ing the necessity of restating the opponent's positron. Second, 
there is the consideration of interest, which wanes when a dis- 
cussion is prolonged by frequent delays. Third, there is the 
consideration arising out of the fact that every issue of a paper 
is seen by hundreds of people who never see another. It is 
better that such should read both sides than but one. 

Mr. Robinson's other request — that I make no verbal 
criticism — is also hard to comply with. How am I to avoid 
a verbal criticism when he makes against Anarchists a charge 
of inconsistency which can only be sustained by a definition 
of government which Anarchists reject ? He says that the 
essence of government is compulsion by violence. If it is, 
then of course Anarchists, always opposing government, must 
always oppose violence. But Anarchists do not so define 
government. To them the essence of government is invasion. 
From the standpoint of this definition, why should Anar- 
chists, protesting against invasion and determined not to be 
invaded, not use violence against it, provided at any time 
violence shall seem the most effective method of putting a 
stop to it ? 

But it is not the most effective method, insists Mr. Robin- 
son in another part of his article ; " it does not accomplish its 
purpose." Ah ! here we are on quite another ground. The 
claim no longer is that it is necessarily un-Anarchistic to use 
violence, but that other influences than violence are more 
potent to overcome invasion. Exactly ; that is the gospel 
which Liberty has always preached. I have never said any- 
thing to the contrary, and Mr. Robinson's criticism, so far as 
it lies in this direction, seems to me mal a propos. His article 
is prompted by my answers to Mr. Blodgett in No. 115. Mr. 
Blodgett's questions were not as to what Anarchists would 
find it best to do, but as to what their Anarchistic doctrine 
logically binds them to do and avoid doing. I confined my 
attention strictly to the matter in hand, omitting extraneous 
matters. Mr. Robinson is not justified in drawing infer- 
ences from my omissions, especially inferences that are antago- 
nistic to my definite assertions at other times. 

Perhaps he will answer me, however, that there are certain 
circumstances under which I think violence advisable. 
Granted ; but, according to his article, so does he. These 
circumstances, however, he distinguishes from the social state 
as a state of warfare. But so do I. The question comes 
upon what you are to do when a man makes war upon you. 
Ward him off, says Mr, Robinson, but do not attack him in 


turn to prevent a repetition of his attack. As a general policy, 
I agree ; as a rule without exceptions, I dissent. Suppose a 
man tries to knock me down. I will parry his blows for a while, 
meanwhile trying to dissuade him from his purpose. But 
suppose he does not desist, and I have to take a train to 
reach the bedside of my dying child. I straightway knock 
him down and take the train. And if afterwards he repeats 
his attack again and again, and thereby continually takes my 
time away from the business of my life, I put him out of my 
way, in the most decent manner possible, but summarily and 
forever. In other words, it is folly for people who desire to 
live in society to put up with the invasions of the incorrigible. 
Which does not alter the fact that with the corrigible it is not 
only good policy, but in accordance with the sentiments of 
highly-developed human beings, to be as gentle and kind as 

To describe such dealing with the incorrigible as the exer- 
cise of " our liberty to compel others " denotes an utter mis- 
conception. It is simply the exercise of our liberty to keep 
others from compelling us. 

But who is to judge where invasion begins ? asks Mr. Rob- 
inson. Each for himself, and those to combine who agree, I 
answer. It will be perpetual war, then ? Not at all ; a war 
of short duration, at the worst. I am well aware that there is 
a border-land between legitimate and invasive conduct over 
which there must be for a time more or less trouble. But it 
is an ever-decreasing margin. It has been narrowing ever 
since the idea of equal liberty first dawned upon the mind of 
man, and in proportion as this idea becomes clearer and the 
new social conditions which it involves become real will it 
contract towards the geometrical conception of a line. And 
then the world will be at peace. Meanwhile, if the pick-pocket 
continues his objectionable business, it will not be because 
of any such reasoning as Mr. Robinson puts into his mouth. 
He may so reason, but as a matter of fact he never does. Or, 
if he does, he is an exceptional pick-pocket. The normal 
pick-pocket has no idea of equal liberty. Whenever the idea 
dawns upon him, he will begin to feel a desire for its reali- 
zation and to acquire a knowledge of what equal liberty is. 
'Then he will see that it is exclusive of pocket-picking. And 
,S0 with the people who hanged the Chicago martyrs. I have 
never blamed them in the usual sense of the word blame. I 
charge them with committing gross outrage upon the principle 
of equal liberty, but not with knowing what they did. When 
they become Anarchists, they will realize what they did, and 


will do SO no more. To this end my comrades and I are try- 
ing to enlighten them concerning the principle of equal liberty. 
But we shall fail if we obscure the principle by denying or 
concealing the lengths to which, in caseof need, it allows us 
to go lest people of tender sensibilities m"ay infer that we are 
in favor of always going to such lengths, regardless of circum- 


[Liberty, February 2, 1889.] 

My dear Mr. Tucker: 

Liberty has done me a great service in carrying me from the metaphysical 
speculations in which I was formerly interested into a vein of practical 
thought which is more than a mere overflow of humanitarianism ; whichjs 
as closely logical and strictly scientific as any other practical investigation. 
In spite of certain small criticisms which it would be petty to dwell upon, 
it is the most advanced and most intellectual paper that I have seen. I 
esteem it most highly. 

The particular matter upon which we have exchanged letters — the ques- 
tion of non-resistance — is still in my mind, but it is hard for me to find 
time to write anything for publication. Perhaps it is even premature. 

Of course 1 see very clearly that economically Anarchism is complete 
without including any question as to force or no-force at all: but the im- 
portance of preaching one or the other as a means of obtaining or perpet- 
uating Anarchy has not diminished in my mind. 

People invariably feel, if they do not ask; " How are you going to ac- 
complish it?" And I think the question is valid. 

In every definition of liberty, or of aggression, there is a reference to a 
certain limit beyond which liberty becomes aggression. How this limit is cer- 
tainly determinable I have never seen any one attempt to show. As a matter 
of fact, the history of liberty has been a record of the continual widening of 
this limit. Once there was a time when religious heterodoxy was regard- 
ed as an aggression, not vainly I think you will admit when you remem- 
ber how much our actions are influenced by our predisposing theories. 
When it was commonly thought, even by transgressors themselves, that 
nothing but the acceptance of certain dogmas prevented all men from be- 
coming transgressors, it was not unreasonable to " resist the beginnings." 

So now when multitudes of good people regard the maintenance of the 
State as essential to the preservation of security, it is no wonder that they 
should easily be inflamed against those who openly antagonize the State. 
Formerly to think heterodoxy was regarded as an aggression. Afterwards 
thought was freed, but speech was limited. To speak of the forbidden 
thing was then an aggression, and still is to some extent. 

What is the line? Where is the limit? Thought and speech can both 
be absolutely free. Thinking or talking cannot really hurt anybody. 
But when we come to actions, where are we to stop? 

That this line which separates liberty from aggression should be drawn 
seems to me essential to the working of the Anarchistic principle in actual 


practice. As an illustration, you and Egoist in the last issue of Liberty 
consider each the other an aggressor in a certain case. 

Is not government really a bungling attempt, but perhaps the best we 
could do up to this time, to settle the question, roughly and arbitrarily, 
between parties who each regarded themselves as within their right and 
the other as the aggressor ? 

So it would appear to me. Even the land laws and other laws which 
seem primary are, I think, only secondary. I am not profoundly versed 
in the history of law, but I am inclined to think that statutes and the 
generalizations of common law have sprung from the collocation of many 
individual decisions, each decision being the best that could be arrived at 
under the circumstances of the time. 

If this is at all a fair description of what is, — that is, if law is a rough at- 
tempt to draw the line between liberty and aggression, and not a conscious 
deliberate fraud committed by the privileged upon the oppressed (and I 
think the notion of the State being " a conspiracy " is as empty as the par- 
allel notion of some of our secularist friends that the Church is a con- 
spiracy of priests), — if the State is the result of attempts to determine the 
limit of liberty, no theory that dispenses with the State is complete unless 
it otherwise defines that limit. 

The essence of aggression, the reason that it is forbidden, is that 
it causes pain. Pain, even when caused by, or a concomitant of, properly 
limited liberty, is in itself a wrong, — an antagonist of personal or social 
progress. If aggression were uniformly pleasant, it would be regarded as 

So that if in the exercise of my liberty I give pain to anybody, in so far 
as I give pain I am committing an aggression. If I bathe naked before 
one who is shocked by such exhibition, doubtless his prudery is unjustifi- 
able ; that, however, does not alter the fact that I have deliberately injured 
him, — I have committed an aggression. 

In trying to logically define this limit, I have cast about in various di- 
rections. At one time it seemed that individual liberty included a right to 
all non-action. That is, that people have a right to say to any one : " You 
are injuring us by your proceedings ; you must stop "; but that they have 
no right to say : " It is essential to our happiness that you should do this 
or that." 

I am not sure that this is not a correct idea, but the statement lacks 
precision, and I have not so far been able to attenuate it. 

The best thought that I have yet had is that what is called " non-resist- 
ance " is the true guide. A better word would be "non-retaliation," yet 
even that is not quite right. 

At the bottom there is a feeling that no one attacks another nowadays 
for fun. If a man attacks me, I immediately conclude that I have injured 
him, or that he thinks that I have injured him. If I could " paralyze him 
by a glance " or otherwise " resist " him without injuring him, I should 
hardly call it resistance. Usually, however, there are but two courses open. 
One a timely apology; the other a counter attack. If I adopt the latter 
and disable him or kill him, the question of who first aggressed is undeter- 
mined. I have assumed an aristocratic attitude of impeccability ; sociality 
does not exist. 

As for those who take pleasure in aggression, it is an evanescent type. 
They are hospital subjects, reversions to an ancestral type, certainly not 
responsible individuals. 

Briefly, the question of what constitutes aggression can be settled only 
by compact between individuals. In order to arrive at an understanding 


and form the compact, the opinion of the one that thinks he is encroached 
upon must be final if it cannot be removed by argument, — that is, by 
changing his convictions. 

If any action is persisted in which any one conceives to be an aggression 
upon him, it virtually is an aggression ; and the friend of liberty is com- 
pelled to recognize it as such and to recede, rather than to inflict injury in 
continuing his course. 

I trust that you will seize my idea. I do not regard this as final, but I 
think some clearly logical demarcation essential. 

Sincerely yours, John Beverley Robinson. 

67 Liberty Street, New York, January 25, 1889. 

While I should like to see the line between liberty and 
aggression drawn with scientific exactness, I cannot admit 
that such rigor of definition is essential to the realization of 
Anarchism. If, in spite of the lack of such a definition, the 
history of liberty has been, as Mr. Robinson truly says, " a 
record of the continual widening of this limit," there is no 
reason why this widening process should not go on until An- 
archy becomes a fact. It is perfectly thinkable that, after the 
last inch of debatable ground shall have been adjudged to one 
side or the other, it may still be found impossible to scientifically 
formulate the rule by which this decision and its predecessors 
were arrived at. 

The chief influence in narrowing the strip of debatable land 
is not so much the increasing exactness of the knowledge of 
what constitutes aggression as the growing conception that ag- 
gression is an evil to be avoided and that liberty is the condi- 
tion of progress. The moment one abandons the idea that he 
was born to discover what is right and enforce it upon the rest 
of the world, he begins to feel an increasing disposition to let 
others alone and to refrain even from retaliation or resistance ex- 
cept in those emergencies which immediately and imperatively 
require it. This remains true even if aggression be defined 
in the extremely broad sense of the infliction of pain ; for the 
individual who traces the connection between liberty and the 
general welfare will be pained by few things so much as by the 
consciousness that his neighbors are curtailing their liberties out 
of consideration for his feelings, and such a man will never say 
to his neighbors, " Thus far and no farther," until they com- 
mit acts of direct and indubitable interference and trespass. The 
man who feels more pained at seeing his neighbor bathe naked 
than he would at the knowledge that he refrained from doing 
so in spite of his preference is invariably the man who be- 
lieves in aggression and government as the basis of society and 
has not learned the lesson that "liberty is the mother of order." 
This lesson, then, rather than an exact definition of aggres- 


sion, is the essential condition of the development of Anar- 
chism. Liberty has steadily taught this lesson, but has never 
professed an ability to define aggression, except in a very 
general way. We must trust to experience and the conclu- 
sions therefrom for the settlement of all doubtful cases. 

As for States and Churches, I think there is more founda- 
tion than Mr. Robinson sees for the claim that they are con- 
spiracies. Not that I fail to realize as fully as he that there 
are many good men in both whose intent is not at all to oppress 
or aggress. Doubtless there are many good and earnest priests 
whose sole aim is to teach religious truth as they see it and 
elevate human life, but has not Dr. McGIynn conclusively 
shown that the real power of control in the Church is always 
vested in an unscrupulous machine ? That the State origi- 
nated in aggression Herbert Spencer has proved. If it now 
pretends to exist for purposes of defence, it is because the 
advance of sociology has made such a pretence necessary to 
its preservation. Mistaking this pretence for reality, many 
good men enlist in the work of the State. But the fact re- 
mains that the State exists mainly to do the will of capital and 
secure it all the privileges it demands, and I cannot see that 
the combinations' of capitalists who employ lobbyists to buy 
legislators deserve any milder title than " conspirators," or that 
the term " conspiracy " inaccurately expresses the nature of 
their machine, the State. 


\_Liherty^ December 26, 1891.] 

To the Editor of Liberty: 

Do you think that it is accurate to say, as Liberty has said recently, 
that Anarchism contemplates the use of police, jails, and other forms of 
force? Is it not rather that Anarchism contemplates that those who 
wish these means of protection shall pay for them themselves ; while 
those who prefer other means shall only pay for what they want ? (i) 

Indeed, the whole teaching that it is expedient to use force against the 
invader, which, as you know, I have always had doubts about, seems to 
me to fall when Egoism is adopted as the basis of our thought. To de- 
scribe a man as an invader seems a reminiscence of the doctrine of 
natural depravity. It fails to recognize that all desires stand upon a par, 
morally, and that it is for us to find the most convenient way of gratify- 
ing as much of everybody's desires as possible. To say that a certain 
formula proposed by us to this end is "justice," and that all who do not 
conform to it— all who are " unjust" — will be suppressed by us by vio- 
lence, is precisely parallel to the course of those who say that their for- 



mula for the regulation of conduct is the measure of righteousness, and 
that they will suppress the " unrighteous " by violence. (2) 

As I absorb the Egoistic sentiment, it begins to appear that the funda- 
mental demand is not liberty, but the cessation of violence in the obtain- 
ing of gratification for desires. 

By the cessation of violence we shall obtain liberty, but liberty is the 
end rather than the means. (3) 

"We demand liberty," say the Anarchists. "Yes, but we see no 
reason why we should forego our desire to control you, by your own 
canons, if you are Egoists," replies the majority. " Truly," we answer, 
"but we point out to you that it is for your advantage to give us liberty." 
"At present we are satisfied of the contrary; we are satisfied that you 
wish to upset institutions that we wish to preserve," say they. "We 
do, indeed," we reply, "but we will not invade you, we will not prevent 
you from doing anything you wish, provided it does not tend to deter 
us from uninvasive activities." "We think," concludes the majority, 
" that in attempting to destroy what we wish to preserve you are invad- 
ing us " ; and how are we to establish the contrary except by laying 
down a practicable definition of invasion — one by which it can be demon- 
strated that using unoccupied but claimed land, for instance, is not in- 
vasive. (4) 

No, it seems to me that no definition of invasion can be made; that it 
is a variable quantity, like liberty itself. 

When you said, some time ago, that liberty was not a natural right, 
but a social contract, I think you covered the case. If, however, liberty 
is a matter of contract, is not invasion, which is the limit of liberty, also 
a matter of contract? (5) 

What Anarchism really means is the demand for the rule of contract, 
rather than for the rule of violence. 

" As Egoists, we Anarchists point out to you, the majority, that the 
pleasure of mankind in fighting for the sake of fighting is rapidly declin- 
ing from disuse. We point out further that from any other point of 
view fighting is not to the interest of anybody; that desires can be grati- 
fied and the harmonization of clashing interests attained much more 
pleasurably without fighting." " That is true," the majority replies, for, 
though the majority really enjoys fighting for the fun of it, it has got to 
a point where it will not admit that it does, and to a point where it 
clearly perceives the costliness of the amusement. 

" We propose then," the Anarchists continue, " not to settle differ- 
ences by violence ; but to reach the best agreement that we can without 
violence. We propose this with the more confidence that you will accept 
it, because you yourselves are beginning to admit that the condition of 
existence for men is not the former ascetic suppression, but the gratifi- 
cation of desires. We therefore propose that you shall at once cease to 
repress by violence conduct which is not against your interests and which 
you now suppress only on account of a surviving belief that you are 
called upon to suppress it for the interest of the doers. Following that, 
we shall make other demands for the cessation of violence." 

But, of course, in proposing contract instead of violence, it follows 
that we abjure violence as a principle ; we become what I think it is fair 
to call non-resistants. That is to say that, although we do not guarantee 
our actions should our fellows refuse to accept our proposal of the system 
of contract, we do not for a moment suppose that such possible reversions 
to violence are a part of the new system of contract. (6) 

We must hold, as Egoists, that the gratification of the desires of 


"criminals" is no more subject to "moral" condemnation than our 
own actions, though from our point of view it may be regrettable ; and 
that by just as much ^s we permit ourselves to use violence to repress 
it, by just so much we fortify the continuation of the present reign of 
violence, and postpone the coming of the reign of contract. Therefore 
it is that I call myself a non-resistant and regard non-resistance as the 
necessary implication for an Egoist who prefers contract to violence. 

When I say non-resistance, I must explain that, so to speak, I do not 
mean non-resistance, — that is to say, I mean resistance by every means 
except counter-violence. 

The editorials that have recently appeared in Liberty signed by Mr. 
Yarros have had to me a strongly moralistic flavor, as indeed it is 
inevitable they should have, from his avowed views ; I thinlj Pentecost's 
views more in conformity with Egoism. By the way, I should be glad 
if Mr. Yarros could explain the moralistic position more clearly in 
Liberty ; or if you and he could have a discussion of the merits of the 
matter. John Beverley Robinson. 

67 Liberty Street, New York, December lo, 1891. 

(i) I think it accurate to say that Anarchism contemplates 
anything and everything that does not contradict Anarchism. 
The writer whom Liberty criticised had virtually made it 
appear that police and jails do contradict Anarchism. Liberty 
simply denies this, and in that sense contemplates police and 
jails. Of course it does not contemplate the compulsory sup- 
port of such institutions by non-invasive persons. 

(2) When I describe a man as an invader, I cast no re- 
flection upon him; I simply state a fact. Nor do I assert for 
a moment the moral inferiority of the invader's desire. I only 
declare the impossibility of simultaneously gratifying the in- 
vader's desire to invade and my desire to be let alone. That 
these desires are morally equal I cheerfully admit, but they 
cannot be equally realized. Since one must be subordinated 
to the other, I naturally prefer the subordination of the in- 
vader's, and am ready to co-operate with non-invasive persons 
to achieve that result. I am not wedded to the term "justice," 
nor have I any objection to it. If Mr. Robinson doesn't like 
it, let us say " equal liberty " instead. Does he maintain that 
the use of force to secure equal liberty is precisely parallel to 
the use of force to destroy equal liberty ? If so, I can only 
hope, for the sake of those who live in the houses which he 
builds, that his appreciation of an angle is keener in architec- 
ture than it is in sociology. 

(3) If the invader, instead of chaining me to a post, bar- 
ricades the highway, do I any the less lose my liberty of loco- 
motion? Yet he has ceased to be violent. We obtain liberty, 
not by the cessation of violence, but by the recognition, either 
voluntary or enforced, of equality of liberty. 

(4) We are to establish the contra,ry by persistent inculcation 


of the doctrine of equality of liberty, whereby finally the 
majority will be made to see in regard to existing forms of 
invasion what they have already been made to see in regard 
to its obsolete forms, — namely, that they are not seeking 
equality of liberty at all, but simply the subjection of all 
others to themselves. Our sense of what constitutes invasion 
has been acquired by experience. Additional experience is 
continually sharpening that sense. Though we still draw the 
line by rule of thumb, we are drawing it more clearly every 
day. It would be an advantage if we could frame a clear-cut 
generalization whereby to accelerate our progress. But though 
we have it not, we still progress. 

(s) Suppose it is ; what then ? Must I consent to be trampled 
upon simply because no contract has been made ? 

(6) So the position of the non-resistant is that, when nobody 
attacks him, he won't resist. " We are all Socialists now," said 
some Englishman not long ago. Clearly we are all non-resist- 
ants now, according to Mr. Robinson. I know of no one who 
proposes to resist when he isn't attacked, of no one who pro- 
poses to enforce a contract which nobody desires to violate. 
I tell Mr. Robinson, as I have told Mr. Pentecost, that the be- 
lievers in equal liberty ask nothing better than that all men 
should voluntarily act in accordance with the principle. But 
it is a melancholy fact that many men are not willing so to 
act. So far as our relations with such men are concerned, it 
is not a matter of contract, but of force. Shall we consent to 
be ruled, or shall we refuse to be ruled ? If we consent, are 
we Anarchists? If we refuse, are we Archists? The whole 
question lies there, and Mr. Robinson fails to meet it. 


[LiSer^ji, January 16, 1892,] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

When you preach passive resistance, is it not precisely the same thing 
as what is commonly called non-resistance? 

When William Penn (or was it Fox ?) refused to take off his hat for the 
Icing it was certainly passive resistance ; but, as he made no attempt to 
punch the king's head, it is accounted as quite compatible with the 
Friends' non-resistance tenets, (i) 

I do not think that any practical difference exists between passive re- 
sistance and non-resistance. Yet you urge that in emergency violence 
must be resorted to. Why? In what emergency? If violence is as a 
matter of principle advisable in certain cases, why not in other cases? 


Why not embrace the advocacy of violence of the Communists through- 
out? (2) 

Intelligible enough as a political measure, Anarchism halts as a system 
of philosophy as long as it includes violence at all. To people who 
think government exists to suppress robbery, it is sufficient to point out 
that government exists by robbery, and to enlarge upon the advantages 
that might be expected to follow the establishment of freedom of mem- 
bership in political societies. (3) 

But all this involves no question as to what constitutes invasion. It is 
simply stated that each shall take such measures as he prefers to protect 
himself, and that each shall determine for himself what protection is. 

If, however, we go further, and lay down a formula, however defensible 
the formula may be ; and say that we will by violence enforce that for- 
mula, whether it be the formula of equal liberty or any other formula, I 
must maintain that the action is precisely parallel to the course of every- 
body in the past and present who have compelled others to regulate their 
conduct in accordance with other formulas, alleged to be moral, and held 
to be as irrefragable as you now hold the formula of equal liberty to 
be. (4) 

"Do not pick people's pockets to make them pay for protection they 
don't want," is good enough as far as it goes. 

It may perhaps be well to go no further. 

But if we have to go further and ask, What is protection ? or. What is 
invasion ? the complement of protection, the only reply you can give is 
that invasion is infringing upon equal liberty. 

Until some method is devised by which we can tell whether a given act 
does infringe upon equal liberty the definition is vain. (5) 

For instance, in a state of liberty Mr. Yarros prints a book. You 
copy it. He organizes a society for the suppression of pirates and im- 
prisons you. Your friends organize and a battle ensues. 

You will doubtless say that you would not advocate violence under such 
circumstances to either side. I again ask. Why not ? (6) 

Investigate your own principles and you will find that the recognition 
of equal hberty rests upon the recognition of contract as supplanting vio- 
lence. Although we may think it wise among cannibals to become canni- 
bals ourselves ; although when forced to it we may degrade ourselves to 
use violence ; let us at least recognize that the state of affairs when every 
one shall do as he pleases can only occur when all lay aside violence and 
appeal only to reason. Let us at least recognize that it is for us to totally 
abjure violence as a principle of action; and if we at any tirne deem our- 
selves compelled to do violence let us admit that we do it under protest and 
not from principle. (7) • 

John Beverley Robinson. 

(i) The chief difference between passive resistance and 
non-resistance is this : passive resistance is regarded by its 
champions as a mere policy, while non-resistance is viewed by 
those who favor it as a principle or universal rule. Believers 
in passive resistance consider it as generally more effective 
than active resistance, but think that there are certain cases 
in which the opposite is true ; believers in non-resistance con- 
sider either that it is immoral to actively resist or else that it 
is always unwise to do so. 


(2) Because violence, like every other policy, is advisable 
when it will accomplish the desired end and inadvisable when 
it will not. 

(3) Anarchism is philosophical, but it is not a system of 
philosophy. It is simply the fundamental principle in the 
science of political and social life. The believers in govern- 
ment are not as easily to be satisfied as Mr. Robinson thinks; 
and it is well that they are not. The considerations upon 
which he relies may convince them that government does not 
exist to suppress robbery, but will not convince them that 
abolition of the State will obviate the necessity of dealing 
violently with the other and more ordinary kinds of govern- 
ment of which common robbery is one. For, even though 
they be led to admit that the disappearance of the robber 
State must eventually induce the disappearance of all other 
robbers, they will remember that effects, however certain, are 
not always immediate, and that, pending the consummation, 
there are often serious difficulties that must be confronted. 

(4) If Mr. Robinson still maintains that doing violence to 
those who let us alone is precisely parallel to doing violence 
to those who assault us, I can only modestly hint once more 
that I have a better eye for an angle than he has. 

(5) Not so, by any means. As long as nearly all people are 
agreed in their identification of the great majority of actions 
as harmonious with or counter to equal liberty, and as long as 
an increasing number of people are extending this agreement 
in identification over a still larger field of conduct, the defi- 
nition of invasion as the infringement of equal liberty, far 
from being vain, will remain an important factor in political 

(6) Because we see no imperative and overwhelming neces- 
sity for an immediate settlement of the question of copy- 
right, and because we think that the verdict of reason is 
preferable to the verdict of violence in all doubtful cases 
where we can afford to wait. 

(7) It seems that there are cases in which, according to Mr. 
Robinson, we may resort to violence. It is now my turn to 
ask, Why ? If he favors violence in one case, why not in all ? 
I can see why, but not from his standpoint. For my part, I 
don't care a straw whether, when Mr. Robinson sees fit to use 
violence, he acts under protest or from principle. The main 
question is : Does he think it wise under some circumstances 
to use violence, or is he so much of a practical Archist that 
he would not save his child from otherwise inevitable murder 
by splitting open the murderer's head ? 

I'HE iNDiviDtJAL, Society, and the state. 


[Lzl)erty, November 14, 1891.] 

Because I claim and teach that Anarchism justifies the ap- 
plication of force to invasive men and condemns force only 
when applied to non-invasive men, Mr. Pentecost declares that 
the only difference between Anarchism on the one hand and 
Monarchism or Republicanism on the other is the difference 
between the popular conception of invasion and my own. If 
I were to assert that biology is the science which deals with 
the phenomena of living matter and excludes all phenomena 
of matter that is not living, and if Mr. Pentecost were to say 
that, assuming this, the only difference between the biological 
sciences and the abiological is the difference between the pop- 
' ular conception of life and my own, he would take a position 
precisely analogous to that which he takes on the subject of 
Anarchism, and the one position would be every whit as 
sensible and every whit as foolish as the other. The limit be- 
tween invasion and non-invasion, like the limit between life 
and non-life, is not, at least in our present comprehension of 
it, a hard and fast line. But does it follow from this that in- 
vasion and non-invasion, life and non-life, are identical ? Not 
at all. The indefinite character of the boundary does no 
more than show that a small proportion of the phenomena of 
society, like a small proportion of the phenomena of matter, 
still resist the respective distinguishing tests to which by far 
the greater portion of such phenomena have yielded and by 
which they have been classified. And however embarrassing 
in practice may be the reluctance of frontier phenomena to 
promptly arrange themselves on either side of the border in 
obedience to the tests, it is still more embarrassing in theory 
to attempt to frame any rational view of society or life with- 
out recognition of these tests, by which, broadly speaking, 
distinctions have been established. Some of the most mani- 
fest distinctions have never been sharply drawn. 

If Mr. Pentecost will view the subject in this light and fol- 
low out the reasoning thus entered upon, he will soon discover 
that my conception or misconception of what constitutes in- 
vasion does not at all affect the scientific differentiation of 
Anarchism from Archism. I may err grievously in attributing 
an invasive or a non-invasive character to a given social phe- 
nomenon, and, if I act upon my error, I shall act Archisti- 
cally; but the very fact that I am acting, not blindly and at 

82 mSTlEAb OF A 6C0K. 

hap-hazard, but in furtherance of an endeavor to conform td 
a generalization which is the product of Jong experience and 
accumulating evidence, adds infinitely to the probability that 
I shall discover my error. In trying to draw more clearly the 
line between invasion and non-invasion, all of us, myself in- 
cluded, are destined to make many mistakes, but by our very 
mistakes we shall approach our goal. Only Mr. Pentecost and 
those who think with him take themselves out of the path of 
progress by assuming that it is possible to live in harmony 
simply by ignoring the fact of friction and the causes thereof. 
The no-rule which Mr. Pentecost believes in would amount 
in practice to submission to the rule of the invasive man. 
No-rule, in the sense of no-force-in-any-case, is a self-contra- 
diction. The man who attempts to practise it becomes an 
abettor of government by declining to resist it. So long as 
Mr. Pentecost is willing to let the criminal ride rbughshod 
over him and me, his " preference not to be ruled at all " is " 
nothing but a beatific revelling in sheerest moonshine and 


[Liberty^ June 8, 1889.] 

Connected with the Massachusetts branch of the National 
Woman Suffrage Association is a body of women calling itself 
the Boston Political Class, the object of which is the prepara- 
tion of its members for the use of the ballot. On Thursday 
evening, May 30, this class was addressed in public by Dr. 
Wm. T. Harris, the Concord philosopher, on the subject of 
State Socialism, Anarchism, and free competition. Let me 
say, parenthetically, to these ladies that, if they really wish to 
learn how to use the ballot, they would do well to apply for 
instruction, not to Dr. Harris, but to ex-Supervisor Bill Sim- 
mons, or Johnny O'Brien of New York, or Senator Matthew 
Quay, or some leading Tammany brave, or any of the " bosses " 
who rule city. State, and nation ; for, the great object of the 
ballot being to test truth by counting noses and to prove your 
opponents wrong by showing them to be less numerous than 
your friends, and these men having practically demonstrated 
that they are masters of the art of rolling up majorities at the 
polls, they can teach the members of the Boston Political Class 


a trick or two by which they can gain numerical supremacy, 
while Dr. Harris, in the most favorable view of the case, can 
only elevate their intelligence and thereby fix them more hope- 
lessly in a minority that must be vanquished in a contest where 
ballots instead of brains decide the victory. 

But let that pass. I am not concerned now with these ex- 
cellent ladies, but with Dr. Harris's excellent address ; for it 
was excellent, notwithstanding the fact that he intended it 
partly as a blow at Anarchism. Instead of being such a blow, 
the discourse was really an affirmation of Anarchism almost 
from beginning to end, at least in so far as it dealt with prin- 
ciples, and departed from Anarchism only in two or three 
mistaken attempts to illustrate the principles laid down and 
to identify existing society with them as expressive of them. 

After positing the proposition that the object of society is 
the production of self-conscious intelligence in its highest 
form, or, in other words, the most perfect individuality, the 
lecturer spent the first half of his time in considering State So- 
cialism from this standpoint. He had no difficulty in show- 
ing that the absorption of enterprise by the State is indeed a 
" looking backward," — a very long look backward at that com- 
munism which was the only form of society known to pri- 
mitive man ; at that communism which purchases material 
equality at the expense of the destruction of liberty ; at that 
communism out of which evolution, v/ith its tendency toward 
individuality, has been gradually lifting mankind for thousands 
of years ; at that communism which, by subjecting the indi- 
vidual rights of life and property to industrial tyranny, thereby 
renders necessary a central political tyranny to at least par- 
tially secure the right to life and make possible the continuance 
of some semblance of social existence. The lecturer took the 
position that civil society is dependent upon freedom in pro- 
duction, distribution, and consumption, and that such freedom 
is utterly incompatible with State Socialism, which in its ulti- 
mate implies the absolute control of all these functions by 
arbitrary power as a substitute for economic law. Therefore 
Dr. Harris, setting great value upon civil society, has no use 
for State Socialism. Neither have the Anarchists. Thus far, 
then, the Anarchists and this teacher of the Boston Political 
Class walk hand in hand. 

Dr. Harris, however, labors under a delusion that just at this 
point he parts company with us. As we follow his argument 
further, we shall see if this be true. The philosophy of society, 
he continued in substance, is coextensive with a ground covered 
by four institutions, — namely, the family, civil society, the State, 


and the Church. Proceeding then to define the specific pur- 
poses of these institutions, he declared that the object of 
the family is to assure the reproduction of individuals and 
prepare them, by guidance through childhood, to become rea- 
sonable beings ; that the object of civil society is to enable 
each individual to reap advantage from the powers of all 
other individuals through division of labor, free exchange, 
and other economic means ; that the object of the State is to 
protect each individual against aggression and secure him in 
his freedom as long as he observes the equal freedom of others ; 
and that the object of the Church (using the term in its broad- 
est sense, and not as exclusively applicable to the various 
religious bodies) is to encourage the investigation and perfec- 
tion of science, literature, the fine arts, and all those higher 
humanities that make life worth living and tend to the eleva- 
tion and completion of self-conscious intelligence or individu- 
ality. Each of these objects, in the view of the lecturer, is 
necessary to the existence of any society worthy of the name, 
and the omission of any one of them disastrous. The State 
Socialists, he asserted truthfully, would ruin the whole struc- 
ture by omitting civil society, whereas the Anarchists, he as- 
serted erroneously, would equally ruin it by omitting the State. 
Right here lies Dr. Harris's error, and it is the most vulgar of 
all errors in criticism, — that of treating the ideas of others from 
the standpoint, not of their definitions, but of your own. Dr. 
Harris hears that the Anarchists wish to abolish the State, 
and straightway he jumps to the conclusion that they wish to 
abolish what he defines as the State. And this, too, in spite 
of the fact that, to my knowledge, he listened not long ago to 
the reading of a paper by an Anarchist from which it was 
clearly to be gathered that the Anarchists have no quarrel with 
any institution that contents itself with enforcing the law of 
equal freedom, and that they oppose the State only after first 
defining it as an institution that claims authority over the non- 
aggressive individual and enforces that authority by physical 
force or by means that are effective only because they can and 
will be backed by physical force if necessary. Far from omitting 
the State as Dr. Harris defines it., the Anarchists expressly favor 
such an institution, by whatever name it may be called, as long 
as its raison d'etre continues ; and certainly Dr. Harris would 
not demand its preservation after it had become superfluous. 

In principle, then, are not the Anarchists and Dr. Harris in 
agreement at every essential point?-- It certainly seems so. 
I do not know an Anarchist that would not accept every 
division of his social map. 


Defining the object of the family as he defines it, the 
Anarchists believe in the family ; only they insist that free 
competition and experiment shall always be allowed in order 
that it may be determined what form of family best secures 
this object. 

Defining the object of civil society as he defines it, the An- 
archists believe in civil society ; only they insist that the free- 
dom of civil society shall be complete instead of partial. 

Defining the object of the State as he defines it, the Anar- 
chists believe in the State ; only they insist that the greater^part, 
if not all, of the necessity for its existence is the result of an 
artificial limitation of the freedom of civil society, and that 
the completion of industrial freedom may one day so harmo- 
nize individuals that it will no longer be necessary to provide 
a guarantee of political freedom. 

Defining the object of the Church as he defines it, the An- 
archists most certainly believe in the Church ; only they insist 
that all its work shall be purely voluntary, and that its discov- 
eries and achievements, however beneficial, shall not be im- 
posed upon the individual by authority. 

But there is a point, unhappily, where the Anarchists and Dr. 
Harris do part company, and that point is reached when he 
declares or assumes or leaves it to be inferred that the present 
form of the family is the form that best secures the objects of 
the family, and that no attempt at any other form is to be tol- 
erated, although evidence of the horrors engendered by the 
prevailing family life is being daily spread before our eyes in 
an ever-increasing volume ; th-at the present form of civil so- 
ciety is the embodiment of complete economic freedom, al- 
though it is undeniable that the most important freedoms, those 
without which all other freedoms are of little or no avail, — the 
freedom of banking and the freedom to take possession of un- 
occupied land, — exist nowhere in the civilized world ; that the 
existing State does nothing but enforce the law of equal free- 
dom, although it is unquestionably based upon a compulsory 
tax that is itself a denial of equal freedom, and is daily adding 
to ponderous volumes of statutes the bulk of which are either 
sumptuary and meddlesome in character or devised in the in- 
terest of privilege and monopoly ; and that the existing Church 
carries on its work in accordance with the principle of free 
competition, in spite of the indubitable fact that, in its various 
fields of religion, science, literature, and the arts, it is endowed 
with innumerable immunities, favors, prerogatives, and li- 
censes, with the extent and stringency of which it is still 


All these assumptions clearly show that Dr. Harris is a man 
of theory, and not of practice. He knows nothing but disem- 
bodied principles. Consequently, when the State Socialist 
proposes to embody a principle antagonistic to his, he recog- 
nizes it as such and demolishes it by well-directed arguments. 
But this same antagonistic principle, so far as it is already em- 
bodied, is unrecognizable by him. As soon as it becomes in- 
carnate, he mistakes it for his own. No matter what shape 
it has taken, be it a banking monopoly, or a land monopoly, or 
a national post-office monopoly, or a common school system, 
or a compulsory tax, or a setting-up of non-aggressive individ- 
uals to be shot at by an enemy, he hastens to offer it one 
hand, while he waves the flag of free competition with the 
other. In consequence of its fleshly wrappings, he is consti- 
tutionally incapable of combating the status quo. For this 
reason he is not an altogether competent teacher, and is liable 
to confuse the minds of the ambitious ladies belonging to the 
Boston Political Class. 


{Liberty, January 25, 1890.] 

Sir : 

That barrel-organ outside my window goes near to driving me mad (I 
mean madder than I was before). What am I to do ? I cannot ask the 
State, as embodied in the person of a blue-coated gentleman at the corner, 
to move him on ; because I have given notice that I intend to move on 
the said blue-coated gentleman himself. In other words, I have given the 
State notice to quit. Ask the organ-grinder politely to carry his melody 
elsewhere ? I have tried that, but he only executes a double-shuffle and 
puts out his tongue. Ought I to rush out and punch his head ? But, 
firstly, that might be looked upon as an invasion of his personal liberty ; 
and, secondly, he might punch mine ; and the last state of this man would 
be worse than the first. Ought I to move out of the way myself ? But I 
cannot conveniently take my house with me, or even my library. I tried 
another plan. I took out my cornet, and, standing by his side, executed 
a series of movements that would have moved the bowels of Cerberus. 
The only effect produced was a polite note from a neighbor (whom I re- 
spect) begging me to postpone my solo, as it interfered with the pleasing 
harmonies of the organ. Now Fate forbid that I should curtail the hap- 
piness of an esteemed fellow-streetsman. What then was I to do ? I put 
on my hat and sallied forth into the streets with a heavy heart full of the 
difficulties of my individualist creed. The first person I met was a tramp 
who accosted me and exposed a tongue white with cancer, — whether real 
or artificial I do not know. It nearly made me sick, and I really do not 
think that persons ought to go about exposing disgusting objects with 


a view to gain. I did not hand him the expected penny, but I briefly — 
very briefly — expressed a hope that an infinite being would be pleased to 
consign him to infinite torture, and passed on. I wandered through street 
after street, all full of houses painted in different, shades of custard-color, 
toned with London fog, and all just sufficiently like one another to make 
one wish that they were either quite alike or very different. And I 
wondered whether something might not be done to compel all the owners 
to paint at the same time and with the same tints. At last I reached 
a place where the road was rendered impassable by a crowd which had 
gathered to listen to an orator who was shouting from an inverted tub. 
He was explaining that many years ago Jesus died to save sinners like us, 
and therefore the best thing we could do was to deprive the publicans 
of their licenses without compensation. I ventured to remark that, 
although this might be perfectly true, still I wanted to get into the 
country along the common highway, and that the crowd he had coUecled 
prevented me from doing so. He replied that he knew my sort, what- 
ever that may mean ; but his words seem to have acted like magic on his 
hearers, for, although I did at last elbow my way through the throng, it 
was not without damage to the aforementioned hat. It was a relief to reach 
the country and to sit down by a stream and watch the children gathering 
blackberries. I was, however, surprised to find that the berries were still 
pink- and far from ripe. "Why don't you -wait till they are ripe?" I 
asked. " Coz if we did there would be none left by then," was the some- 
what puzzling reply. " But surely, if you all agreed to wait, it could be 
managed," I said. " Oh yes, sir," responded a little girl, with a pitying 
laugh at my simplicity, "but the others always come and gather them 
just before they are ripe." I don't quite know who the others are, but 
surely something ought to be done to put a stop to this extravagant haste 
and ruinous competition. The result of the present system is that nobody 
gets any ripe blackberries. I mentioned the subject to an old gentleman 
who was fishing in the rivulet; " Exactly so," said he, "it is just the 
same with fish. You see there is a close season for salmon and some 
sorts ; but those scoundrels are steadily destroying the rest by catching 
the immature fish, instead of waiting till they are fit for anything. I sup- 
pose they think that they will not have the luck to catch them again, and 
that a sprat in hand is worth a herring in a bush." I admitted the force 
and beauty of the metaphor, and proceeded on my journey. 

Beginning to feel hungry, I made tracks for the nearest village, where 
I knew I should find an inn. A few hundred yards from the houses I 
observed a party of hulking fellows stripping on the bank with a view to 
a plunge and a swim. It struck me they were rather close to the road, 
but I nevertheless thought it my duty to resent the interference of a police- 
man who appeared on the scene and rather roughly ordered the fellows 
off. " I suppose," said I, " that free citizens have a right to wash in a free 
stream." But the representative of law and order fixed upon me a pair of 
boiled eyes, and, without trusting his tongue, pointed to a blackboard 
stuck on a post some little way off. I guessed his meaning and went on. 
When I reached the inn, I ordered a chop and potatoes and a pint of 
bitter, and was surprised to find that some other persons were served 
before me, although they had come in later. Presently I observed one 
of them in the act of tipping the waiter. " Excuse me, sir," said I, "but 
that is not fair ; you are bribing that man to give you an undue share of 
attention. I presume you also tip porters at a railway station, and per- 
haps custom-house officers?" "Of course I do; what's that to you? 
Mind your own business," was the reply I received. I had evidently 


made myself unpopular with these gentlemen. One of them was chewing 
a quid and spitting about the floor. One was walking up and down the 
room in a pair of crealsing boots, and taking snuff the while ; and a third 
was voraciously tackling a steak, and removing lumps of gristle from his 
mouth to his plate in the palm of his hand. After each gulp of porter, he 
seemed to take a positive pride in yielding to the influences of flatulence 
in a series of reports which might have raised Lazarus. My own rations 
appeared at last, and I congratulated myself that, by the delay, I had been 
spared the torture of feeding in company with .^olus, who was already 
busy with the toothpick, when to my dismay he produced a small black 
clay pipe and proceeded to stuff it with black shag. " There is, I believe, 
a smoking-room in the house," I remarked deprecatingly ; "otherwise I 
would not ask you to allow me to finish my chop before lighting your 
pipe here; don't you think tobacco rather spoils one's appetite?" I 
thought I had spoken politely, but all the answer I got was this, "Look 
'ere, governor, if this 'ere shanty ain't good enough for the like of you, 
you'd better walk on to the Star and Garter." And, awaiting my reply 
with an expression of mingled contempt and defiance, he proceeded to 
emphasize his argument by boisterously coughing across the table with- 
out so much as raising his hand. I am not particularly squeamish, but 
I draw the line at victuals that have been coughed over. To all practical 
purposes, my lunch was gone, — stolen. I looked round for sympathy, 
but the feeling of the company was clearly against me. The gentleman 
in the creaking boots laughed, and, walking up to th^ table, laid his hand 
upon it in the manner of an orator in labor. He paused to marshal his 
thoughts, and I had an opportunity of observing him with several senses 
at once. His nails were in deep mourning, his clothes reeked of stale 
tobacco and perspiration, and his breath of onions and beer. His face 
was broad and rubicund, but not ill-featured, and his expression bore the 
stamp of honesty and independence. No one could mistake him for 
other than he was, — a sturdy British farmer. After about half a minute's 
incubation, his ideas found utterance. " I'll tell you what it is, sir," he 
said, " I don't know who you are, but this is a free country, and it's 
market day an' all." I could not well dispute any of these propositions, 
and, inasmuch as they appeared to be conclusive to the minds of the 
company, my position was a difficult one. ''I do not question your 
rights, friend," I ventured to say at last, "but I think a little consider- 
ation for other people's feelings. . . eh?" "Folks shouldn't have feel- 
ings that isn't usual and proper, and if they has, they should go where 
their feelings is usual and proper, that's me," was the reply ; and it is not 
without philosophy. The same idea had already dimly shimmered in my 
own mind ; besides, was I not an individualist ? " You are right, friend," 
said I, " so I will wish you good morning and betake myself elsewhere." 
"Good morning," said the farmer, offering his hand, and "Good rid- 
dance," added the gentleman with the toothpick. 

As I emerged from the inn, not a little crest-fallen, a cat shot across 
the road followed by a yelping terrier, who in his turn was urged on by 
two rosy little boys. "Stop that game," I shouted, "what harm has 
pussy done you?" The lads did stop, but the merry twinkle in their 
eyes betokened a fixed intention to renew the sport as soon as old Mar- 
plot was out of the way. But the incident was not thrown away on a 
pale man with a long black coat and a visage to match. " It is of no 
use, my dear sir," said he, shaking his head and smiling drearily, " it is 
the nature of the dog to worry cats ; and it is the nature of the boys lo 
urge on the dog ; we are all born in sin and the children of wrath. l 


used to enjoy cat-hunts myself before I was born again. You naust edu- 
cate, sir, educate before you can reform. Mark my words, sir, the 
school-board is the ladder to the slcies." " The school-board ! " I ejacu- 
lated ; " you do not mean to say you approve of State-regulated educa- 
tion ? May I ask whether you also approve of a State religion — a State 
church?" I thought this was a poser, but I was mistaken. " The two 
things are not in pari materia,'^ replied the Dissenting minister (for 
there was no mistaking his species); "the established church is the upas- 
tree which poisons the whole forest. It was planted by the hand of a 
deluded aristocracy. The school-board was planted by the people." " I 
do not see that it much signifies who planted the tree, so long as it is 
planted; but, avoiding metaphor, the point is this," said I emphatically : 
"is one fraction of the population to dictate to the other fraction what 
they are to believe, what they are to learn, what they are to do? And I 
do not care whether the dictating fraction is the minority or the major- 
ity. The principle is the same — despotism." The man of God started. 
" What !" he cried, "are we to have no laws? Is every man to do that 
which is right in his own eyes ? Are you aware, sir, that you are preach- 
ing Anarchy ? " It was now my turn to double. " Anarchy is a strong 
expression," said I, most disingenuously; "all I meant to say is that 
the less the State interferes between man and man, the better ; surely 
you will admit that ? " And now I saw from my interlocutor's contracted 
brow and compressed lips that an answer was forthcoming which would 
knock all the wind out of me. And I was right. "Do you see that 
house with the flags on the roof and that sculptured group over the en- 
trance representing the World, the Flesh, and the Devil?" " I see the 
house, but, if you will pardon me, I think the group is intended for the 
Three Graces." The parson shot an angry glance at me ; he knew well 
enough what the figures were meant for ; but even the godly have their 
sense of grim humor. He continued ; "That is the porch of Hell ; and 
there at the corner yawns Hell itself: they are commonly called Old 
Joe's Theatre of Varieties, and the Green Griffin : but we prefer to call 
them by their right names " " Dear me !" I said, somewhat appalled by 
the earnestness of his manner, "are they very dreadful places?" I was 
beginning to feel quite " creepy," and could almost smell the brimstone. 
But, without heeding my query, he continued : " Are we to look on with 
folded hands, while innocent young girls crowd into that sink of iniquity, 
listen to ribald and obscene songs, witness semi-nude and licentious 
dances, meet with dissolute characters, and finally enter the jaws of the 
Green Grifiin to drink of the stream that maddens the soul, that deadens 
the conscience, and that fires the passions?" Here he paused for breath, 
and then in a sepulchral whisper he added : " And what follows ? What 
follows?" This question he asked several times, each time in a lower 
key, with his eyes fixed on mine as though he expected to read the 
answer at the back of my skull on the inside. " I will tell you what fol- 
lows," he continued, to my great relief ; "the end is Mrs. Fletcher's." 
There was something so grotesque in this anti-climax that I gave sudden 
vent to a short explosive laugh, like the snap of the electric spark. I 
could not help it, and I was truly sorry to be so rude, and, in order to 
avoid mutual embarrassment, I fairly bolted down the street, leaving my 
teacher transfixed with pious horror. To a denizen of the village, doubt- 
less, long association had imbued the name of Mrs. Fletcher with a lurid 
connotation, like unto the soothing influence of that blessed word Mes- 
opotamia, — only in the opposite direction. 

I was now in the position of the happy man of fiction " with a pocket 


full of money and a cellar full of beer" ; only my cellar was nine miles 
»off and my money was inconvertible, to all practical intents and purposes. 
There was no other inn ; I dare not try the Green Griffin, and I did not 
know the way to " Mrs. Fletcher's." I wanted to get back to town. " Is 
there a railway station anywhere near here?" I inquired of a bald- 
headed man, who was removing flower-pots from his front parlor win- 
dow-sill. " Railway station ? " he repeated with a snigger, " not much ; 
how should there be a railway station?" "And pray why not?" I 
asked. "You may well ask," replied the bald-headed man ; "if you 
knew these parts, you would know that half the land between here 
and town belongs to Lord Brownmead ; and he opposed the bill which 
the Company brought into Parliament ; so of course the lords threw it 
out and refused the concession : that is why there is no railway station. 
That is why you and I may walk or creep or go in balloons. I wonder 
his lordship or his lordship's ancestors ever allowed the high road to be 
made. Why should not you and I grub our way underground, like 
moles? It is good enough for us, 1 suppose. Railway station, indeed !" 
And down came a flower-pot with a crash, just to accentuate the absurd- 
ity of the idea. " Lord Brownmead belongs to the Liberty and Prop- 
erty Defence League, you know, and he says no one has a right to inter- 
fere with his liberty to do what he likes with his own land. Quite right ; 
quite right," he continued in the same tone of bitter irony, " nothing like 
liberty and property ! " This was an awkward dig for me. I had always 
believed in liberty, and I was thinking of joining Lord Brownmead's 
association. " Perhaps there is a tramway or some other sufficient means 
of rapid communication," I suggested, "in which case it may be that a 
railway is not imperatively necessary." " Perhaps there is," sneered 
the little man, " perhaps there is ; only there isn't, don't you see, so 
that's where it is ; and if you prefer walking or paying for a fly, I am 
sure I have no objection. You have my full permission, and Lord 
Brownmead's too ; only mind you don't take the short cut by the bridle- 
path, because that is closed. It appears it is not a right of way. It is 
private, quite private. Don't forget." I did not want the irascible little 
man to take me for a toady, so I merely asked why there was no tram- 
way. "Why?" he shouted, and I began to fear physical argument, 
' ' why ? because Lord Brownmead and the carriage-folk say that tramways 
cut up the road and damage the wheels of their carriages : that's why. 
Isn't it a sufficient reason for you ? We lower ten thousand must walk, 
for fear the upper ten should have to pay for an extra coat of paint at 
the carriage-builder's. That's reasonable, isn't it?" " I do not know 
that it is, my dear sir," I replied, " but after all you know we have a 
right to use the common road in any way for v^ was originally in- 
tended. They can do no more. And it does seem to me that a tram- 
way monopolizes for the benefit of a class (a large class, I grant you) 
more than its fair share of the common rights of way. Ordinary traffic 
is very much impeded by it, and the rails do certainly cause damage and 
annoyance to persons who never use the public vehicles. Trams may 
be e.xpedient, friend, but they certainly are not just." I thought this 
would have wound up the little man for at least another quarter of an 
hour, but who can read the human mind ? Not another word did he utter. 
I fancy my last remark had satisfied him that I was a Tory or an aristocrat 
or one of the carriage-folk, and consequently beneath contempt and out- 
side the pale of reason. After an awkward pause, I ventured to say: 
" Well, thank you, I wish you good morning," but even that elicited no 
response, and I walked slowly off, feeling some slight loss of dignity, 


I presently ascertained that coaches ran every two hours from the Green 
Griffin to the Royal Oak in London, a fact which the bald-headed man 
had maliciously (as I thought) concealed from me. The line had been 
established, as the barman of the Griffin told me, by Lord Brownmead 
himself some years ago and was maintained at considerable loss for the 
benefit of his tenantry and his poorer neighbors ; and, as some people 
thought, to make amends for his opposition to the tramway. " Some- 
times," added the barman, "his lordship drives hisself, and then, 
lor !" There could be no doubt from the gusto with which the last 
words were pronounced that this individual derived a more tangible joy 
from these occasions than mere sympathy with the honored guest who 
occupied a seat on the box next the distinguished whip : and I accord- 
ingly slipped half a crown into^his hand a propos de boltes. He expressed 
no surprise whatever, but just as the coach was about to start, I found 
myself the pampered ward of a posse of ostlers, grooms, and hangers-on, 
who literally lifted me into the envied seat and evinced the most touch- 
ing concern for my comfort and safety. My knees were swathed in rugs 
and the apron was firmly buckled across to keep me warm and dry, 
without any effort on my part, and as the leaders straightened out the 
traces and Lord Brownmead cracked the whip, half-a-dozen pair of eyes 
" looked towards me," while their owners drank what they were pleased 
to call my health, but which looked to me more like beer. As we dashed 
down the high street, a little man with a bald head cast a withering 
glance at the coach and its occupants, and, when his eyes met mine, his 
expression said as plain as words : " / thought so." I soon forgot him, 
and fell to reflecting on the curious circumstance that it should be in the 
power of a few potmen and stablemen to sell a nobleman's company and 
conversation for the sum of half a crown. Yet so it undoubtedly was. 
And yet, after all, it is hardly stranger than that these same potmen and 
millions more of their own class should have the power of selling to the 
highest bidder a six-hundred-and-seventieth part of kingly prerogative. 
The divine right of kings is just what it ever was, — the right of the 
strong to trample on the weak, the absolute despotism of the effective 
majority. Only to-day, instead of being conferred in its entirety on a 
single person, it is cut up into six hundred and seventy little bits, and 
sold in lots to the highest bidder, by a ring of five millions of potmen 
and their like. 

Such is the new democracy, I thought, and I might possibly have built 
up an essay on the reflection, when I was suddenly roused from my 
reverie by a grunt from the box-seat. " I beg your pardon," said I, " I 
did not quite catch what you said." " Fine bird," repeated his lordship 
in a louder grunt, and jerking his thumb in the direction of a distant 
coppice. "Begin to-morrow : capital prospect," he continued. " Begin 
what ? " I asked, a little ashamed of my stupidity. " October to-morrow," 
he replied : "forgotten, eh?" "Oh, ah ! yes, of course, October the ist, 
pheasant-shooting, I see," I replied, as soon as I caught his meaning. 
" Done any good this season, sir?" he went on. "Good, how? what 
good ? what in ? I don't quite understand," said L " Moors, moors," ex- 
plained Lord Brownmead ; " grouse, sir, grouse : are you . . . er . . , er?" 
"Oh, I see, " I hastened to reply ; "you mean have I shot many grouse 
this season ; no. I have not been to Scotland this year ; besides, I am 
short-sighted and do not shoot at all." A man who did not shoot was 
hardly wortli talking to, and a long silence ensued. At last our Jehu took 
pity on me. " Fish I suppose ; can't hunt all the year round." I replied 
that I did not care for fishing, and that I had no horses and could not af- 

, ^i iNstfiAD OF A Book. 

ford to hunt. I was fast becoming an object of keen interest. My last 
admission was followed by a series of grunts at intervals of about half a 
minute, and at last with a zeal and earnestness which he had not yet ex- 
hibited, and in a louder key than heretofore, Lord Brownmead turned 
upon me with this query : " Then what the doose do you do to kill time, 
dammy ? " I explained that I should have no difficulty in killing double the 
quantity of that article, if I could get it. " Out of the 24 hours," said I, 
" which is the usual allowance in a day, I sleep 7, I work 7, I spend 
about 2 over my meals, and that only leaves 8 for recreation." "Ay, 
ay, but what do you mean by recreation, sir? That's just it, dammy." 
"Oh, sometimes 1 go to the theatre, sometimes to some music-hall ; then 
I go and spend the evening with friends, and all that sort of thing." 
"Balls, eh?" " No, I am not fond of dancing. " " Ha, humph ! that's 
better ; the tenth don't dance, you know ; never went to a prancing party 
in my life." " Then last night Iwent to the Agricultural Hall to hear 
Mr. Gladstone," I continued. " Eh ? what ? Mr. who ? Be good enough 
not to mention that man's name in my presence, sir. He's an under- 
ground fellow, sir, an underground fellow." I was evidently on thin ice ; 
so, in order to turn the conversation, I remarked : " Pretty country this, 
my lord." " Pretty country be damned !" was the amiable response ; '' it 
is not like the same country since that infernal bill was passed." " In- 
deed ! What bill is that?" Lord Brownmead cast upon me a look of 
ineffable scorn. " What bill do you suppose, sir? Are you a foreigner? 
I should like to feed that fellow on hares and tabbits for the rest of his 
life, sir." " Has the Hares and Rabbits Act done much harm ?" I inquired. 
" Done much harm ? Has it revolutionized the country ? you mean ; has 
it ruined the agriculturist ? has it set class against class? has it turned 
honest farmers into poachers and vermin ? See that spire in the trees 
over there ? Well, that poor devil used to live on his glebe ; he has about 
fifteen kids, all told ; he used to have rabbit-pie every Sunday. And now 
there isn't a blessed rabbit in the place." I presumed he was speaking 
of the pastor and not the steeple, so I expressed sympathy with one who 
was so very much a father under the melancholy circumstances. " Still," 
said I, " the rabbits used to eat up a good deal of the crops, I am told." 
" Nonsense, sir, nonsense ! don't believe it," growled his lordship ; 
" they never ate a single blade more than they were worth ; and if they 
did, the devils got it back out of their rents." Most of my companion's 
neighbors appeared to be devils of one sort or another, but I think he 
was referring to the farmers on this occasion. " The devils have all got 
votes, sir, that's what it is ; they've all got votes. I remember the time 
when a decent tenant would as soon have shot his wife as a rabbit. The 
fact is, we are moving a deal too quickly; downhill too, and no brake 
on." I did not wish to express agreement with this sentiment, so I 
merely said : " I believe you are a member of the Liberty and Property 
DefenceLeague ? " "Very likely ; very likely ; if it is a good thing, got 
up to counteract that underground scoundrel. Yes, I think my secretary 
did put me down for £^0 a year. He said they were going to block this 
Tenants' Compensation Bill, or something or other. Good society, very; 
ought to be supported by honest men." " Then would you not give a 
tenant compensation for unexhausted improvements ? " I asked. " Com" 
pensation ! " bawled Lord Brownmead ; " compensation for what? Good 
God ! If one of those fellows on my town property put up a conserva- 
tory, or raised his house a story, or built a new wing, do yo'u suppose at 
the end of his lease he would ask for compensation ? He would think 
himself mad to do it, — mad, sir. And why should the country be different 

Ttt£ tisrblVibyAL, SoctETY, AND tHe state. 93 

from the town ? eh ? The devils go into the thing with their eyes open, I 
suppose. A bargain's a bargain, isn't it? What do they mean by 
compensation? I'd compensate them. Clap them into the stocks. 
That's what they want. Depend upon it, sir, " he added, lowering his 
voice to a husky whisper, "the old man is an unscrupulous agitator, and 
if I had my way, I would lock him up. If he's loose much longer, he 
will ruin the country. Whoa, Jerry, steady my pet ; damn that horse ! " 
We were now drawing up at the Royal Oak, and, to say the truth, I was 
not altogether sorry to get out of the atmosphere of fine, old, crusted 
toryism, and walk along the street among my equals. And yet, there 
was about the man a rugged horror of mean meddling and State coddling 
which one could not but respect. " A bargain's a bargain." Well, that 
is not very original ; but it argues a healthy moral tone. The rabbit-pie 
argument struck me as rather weak, but, take him for all in all, I have 
met politicians who have disgusted me a good deal more than Lord 

It was now dusk, and the evening papers were out. I stopped to read 
the placards on the wall, giving a summary of the day's news. There 
was nothing very new. "Three children murdered by a mother." 
" Great fire in the Strand." " Loss of the Seagull with all hands." On 
looking into the details to which these announcements referred, I found 
that the mother of the children was a widow, who had insured the lives 
of her little ones in the London and County Fire Office for ;^io each, 
and had then pushed them into a reservoir. Her explanation that 
they had fallen in while playing would no doubt have met with general 
acceptance but for the discovery of marks of violence on the neck of the 
eldest daughter, who had evidently struggled resolutely for life. Other 
evidence then cropped up, which made it certain that the children were 
victims of foul play. The editor of the paper expressed himself to the 
effect that no insurance company ought to be allowed to insure the lives 
of children, thus putting temptation in the way of the poor. Oddly 
enough, the fire in the Strand seemed to have resulted from a similar 
motive and a similar transaction. A hairdresser had insured his fittings 
and stock for ;f 150 and then set fire to his shop. Commenting on this, 
the editor had nothing to say about the iniquity of tempting people to 
commit arson, but he thought the State should see that all buildings in a 
public street were provided with concrete floors and asbestos paint ; and 
that muslin curtains should be forbidden. The Seagull, laden with coals 
for Gibraltar, had gone down within sight of land, off Holyhead, before 
assistance could be obtained. It appears she had been insured in the 
Liverpool Mutual Marine Association for double the value of hull and 
cargo. One of the crew had refused to go, on the ground that she was 
unseaworthy, and he was sentenced to fourteen days' imprisonment under 
the Merchant Shipping Act. The editor was of opinion that, although he 
had been justly sentenced, still, he thought, this fearful fulfilment of his 
prognostication would have such an effect on the minds of the public 
that his further incarceration would be highly inexpedient, and might lead 
to rioting. He was further of opinion that marine insurance ought to be 
entirely prohibited, except when undertaken by underwriters " in the usual 
way." This article, I have since heard, made a great sensation at 
Lloyd's, and four thousand copies of the paper were gratuitously dis- 
tributed in the neighborhood of the docks both in Liverpool and London. 
A committee-is being formed for the purpose of urging Parliament to 
make all marine policies void, except those which have been made " in 
he usual way." It is obvious that the crew of the Seagull have not died 


in vain. They have perished in the cause of an ancient monopoly. The 
public indignation at their cruel fate is being used as a handy hook on 
which to hang all " newfangled systems of marine insurance which have 
not stood the test of time, and which have hardly yet seen the light of 

I had reached my own door when I was attracted by a shout and the 
wrangling of many angry voices round the corner of the street. Running 
round, I saw the debris of an overturned dog-cart. Several persons seemed 
to be engaged in an animated debate in a small circle, while the crowd 
played the rdle of a Greek chorus. The disputants appeared to be a young 
gentleman of mettle, in a high collar and dog-skin gloves, a broken-down 
solicitor's clerk, the usual policeman, and a workman in corduroys. It 
was easy to explain the construction of the group. The " masher" was 
obvious.'y the owner of the ill-fated dog-cart ; the workman was the 
watchman in charge of the traction-engine, which was lying quietly at the 
side of the road with a red lamp at each side. The clerk was "the man 
in the street," the vir pietate gravis called in as arbitrator by both dispu- 
tants ; and the policeman was there as a matter of course. When I reached 
the spot and worked my way to the inner circle, the debate had reached 
this stage : "I tell you, any well-bred horse would shy at a god-forsaken 
machine like that ; your people had no right to leave it there. I will 
make them pay for this." Workman— "Well, them's my instructions; 
here's my lights all a-burning, and you shouldn't drive horses like that 
in the streets of London. They'll shy at anything, and it ain't safe." 
Masher — " I beg your pardon, I tell you any horse would shy at that: 
and what is more, I believe traction-engines are unlawful in the streets ; I 
know I have heard so." Clerk — " Well, I can't quite say, but I think 
so. I know elephants are not allowed to go through the streets without 
a special license in the daytime, because our people had a case in which 
a man wanted to ride an elephant through the city and distribute colored 
leaflets, and the Bench said that" . . . Policeman — "Traction-engines 
isn't elephants ; we don't want to know about elephants ; which way was 
you coming when your horse caught sight of this engine ? That is what 
I want to get at." " Straight up King Street, constable, and this fellow 
was fast asleep near the machine." " No. I warn't fast asleep ; didn't I 
ketch 'old of the 'orse ? " " Oh, yes, you woke up, but you never gave any 
warning; why didn't you shout out. Beware of the traction-engine?" 
" What for? ain't you got no eyes? Am I to be shouting all day? What 
is there worse about this 'ere engine than about a flappin' van ? Eh ? 
policeman, what is there worse, I say?" Policeman (firmly) — "That's 
not the question. The question is. Was your lamp burning? " " A course 
they was a-burnin' ; ain't they a-burnin' now?" Clerk (soothingly) — 
" They were burning." Policeman (treading on clerk's toes) — " What do 
you want here? Be off. What have you got to do with it ? Off with 
you. Now, sir," turning to the owner of the broken dog-cart, "was this 
man asleep on dooty?" "Well, I cannot exactly swear he was asleep, 
but " (contriving to slip something into the expectant hand of the officer), 
" but I am sure he was not awake — not wide awake." " Thank you, 
sir"; turning to the watchman, "you see where you are now; I shall 
report you asleep on dooty." " But I warn't asleep, I tell you." " You 
was : didn't you hear the gentleman say you wasn't awake ? " This was 
the conclusion ; there was a slight and sullen murmur in the crowd ; but 
it died away. The incident was at an end ; law was vindicated ; justice 
was done. Yes, done, and no mistake ! But I left without any clear idea 
as to the right of an engine-owner to the use of the common roads. The 


story of the elephant seemed germane to the issue, but it was nipped in 
the bud. I went home, swallowed my dinner not without appetite, and 
set forth in search of entertainment. 

There was a good deal of choice. There always is in London, except 
on Sundays ; and even then there is the choice between the church, the 
public-house, and the knocking-shop. There were the brothers Goliah, 
and the infant Samuel on the high rope, and Miss Lottie Luzone, the 
teetotautomaton, and John Ball the Stentor Comique, and the Sisters 
Delilah, and Signor Farini with his wonderful pigeons, and the Tiger- 
tamer of Bengal, and the Pearl family with their unequalled aquatic feats, 
and I don't know what else. While I was dwelling on the merits of these 
rival attractions, I heard a familiar voice at the door: "Come on, old 
fellow ; come to the National Liberal ; Stewart Headlam is going to open 
a debate on the County Council and the IVIusic-halls. We will have a high 
old time. Come and speak." As a rule, 1 fear the Trocadero or the 
Aquarium would have prevailed over the great Liberal Club as a place of 
after-dinner entertainment ; but on this occasion I had a newly-aroused 
interest in all such questions as the one about to be discussed. So I put 
on my hat and jumped into the hansom which Jack had left at the door. 
En passant, you may have noticed that this is the second lime I have 
recorded the fact that " I put on my hat." English novelists are very 
careful about this precaution. " He put on his hat and walked out of the 
room." " He wished her goodbye, and, putting on his hat, he went out 
as he had come in." There is never a word said about the hero's top-coat 
or his gloves, no matter how cold the weather may be, but the putting on 
of the hat is always carefully chronicled. Now, there is a reason for this. 
It is a well-established principle of English common law that, whenever 
a public disturbance or street mlUe or other shindy takes place, the repre- 
sentative of order shall single out a suitable scapegoat from among the 
crowd. In case of a mutiny in the Austrian army, I am told, it is usual 
to shoot every tenth man who is chosen by lot. But here in merry Eng- 
land the instructions are to look round for a man without a hat. When 
found, he is marched off to the police station with the approval of all con- 
cerned. It is part of our unwritten law. Some few months since the 
principle was actually applied in a cause ce'llbre by the magistrate himself. 
A journalist summoned no less a personage than the Duke of Cambridge 
for assault. The facts were not denied, and the witnesses were all agreed, 
when succor came from an unexpected quarter. " Is it a fact, as I have 
seen it stated in the papers," asked the worthy stipendiary, " is it a fact, 
I ask, that the plaintiff was without a hat ? " There was no gainsaying 
this. The prosecutor was hatless at the time of the alleged assault. That 
settled the matter ; and the Commander-in-chief of the British Army left 
the court (metaphorically speaking) without a stain on his character. 

However, as I have said, I put on my hat, and off we drove to the con- 
ference-room of the big club with the odd name. " National " was first 
used as a political term by the late Benjamin Disraeli to signify the 
patriotic as opposed to the cosmopolitan and anti-national. "Liberal" 
was first used in a political sense about 1815, to denote the advocates 
of liberty as opposed to the " serviles " who believed in State-control. 
And yet the members of the club avowedly uphold State-interference in 
all things, and dub the doctrine of laissez faire the creed of selfishness. 
Still the building is a fine and commodious one, and what's in a name, 
after all ? 

When we reached the political arena, Mr. Headlam, who is a Socialist, 
was in the middle of a very able individualistic harangue. Indeed, 1 


have never heard the case for moral liberty better stated and more 
courageously advocated than on this occasion. I was anxious to hear 
what the censor party might have to say. I half-expected to see some 
weary ascetic — perhaps an austere cardinal — rise in his place and wade 
through some solemn passages from the sententious Hooker. I was 
agreeably disappointed when a chirpy little Scotchman with a,n amusing 
brogue and a moth-eaten appearance started off with prattle of this kind ; 
" Gentlemen, there's no one loves liberty more than me. But we've got 
to draw a line at decency, you see. I've been elected to sit on the 
Council and to see that that line is drawn at the right place. That is 
my duty, and my duty I mean to do. Everything which is calculated to 
bring a blush to the cheek of a pure maiden must be put down. And 
there's another thing ; I say that music-halls where intoxicating liquors 
is sold must be put down. We are not going to tolerate places what in- 
cites to fornication and drunkenness. But at the same time we are no 
foes to liberty, — that is, liberty to do right, and that's the only liberty 
worth fighting for, depend upon it." Mr. McDoodle slapped his knee 
with emphatic violence and sat down. "I should like to ask the last 
speaker," said a thin gentleman in a back row, "whether it is altogether 
consistent for a State which has repealed every statute penalizing forni- 
cation itself to keep up a lot of little worrying measures for the purpose 
of penalizing conduct which may possibly lead to fornication. In other 
words, fornication is perfectly legal, but a song likely to lead to forni- 
cation is illegal. Is this consistent?" "Allow me," shouted a stout 
man with a loud voice ; " perhaps, being a lawyer, I know more about 
these matters than Mr. McDoodle possibly can. The gentleman who 
asks the question is in error. His major premise is false. Fornication 
in this country is a misdemeanor, by 23 and 24 Vict. c. 32." "Pardon 
me," replied the voice in the back row, " I also am a lawyer, and I say 
that the Act you refer to does not make fornication a misdemeanor ; it 
refers only to conspiracy to induce a woman to commit the sin ; that is 
a very different matter." "I don't see that it is," replied the stout man, 
" for what is a conspiracy but an agreement to do wrong? Very well, 
then, an agreement between a man and a woman to do wrong is itself 
a conspiracy. And since they cannot commit this sin without agree- 
ment (if they do, of course it comes under another head), it follows that 
I am right." " Not at all," rejoined the lawyer at the back, " not at all ; 
I fear your ideas of conspiracy are a little mixed. If you will consult 
Stephen's Digest of the Criminal Law, which I hold in my hand, you 
will find these words : ' provided that an agreement between a man and 
a woman to commit fornication is not a conspiracy.' I suppose Mr. 
Justice Stephen may be taken to know something about the law." Chair- 
man (coming to the rescue) — " I think, gentlemen, we are getting off the 
lines. Perhaps Mr. Gattie will favor us with a few words ?" "I con- 
fess, sir," responded that gentleman, " I confess I am in a difficulty. 
Are we discussing whether indecency is wrong or not? Or is the ques- 
tion before the meeting whether Mr. McDoodle and his coadjutors are 
the proper persons to act as ceiisores morum? My own views on these 
three points are these : that indecency, when properly defined, is wrong; 
that Mr. McDoodle and his friends are not competent to define it, nor to 
suggest means for suppressing it ; and, finally, that the State had much 
better leave the settlement of the question to public opinion and the com- 
mon sense and common taste of the people." A whirl of arguments, 
relevant and irrelevant, followed his speech, which contained references 
to a pretty wide field of State-interferences, showing their invariable and 


inevitable failure all along the line. One apoplectic little man was loudly 
demanding an answer to his question " whether we were going to allow 
people to run down the street in a state of complete nudity." That is 
what he wanted to know. Some one replied that in this climate the 
danger was remote, and that the roughs would provide a sufficient de- 
terrent. Some one else wanted to know whether it was decent to hawk 
the Pall Mall Gazette in the streets, and a very earnest young man in- 
quired whether his hearers had ever read the thirty-sixth chapter of 
Genesis, and whether, if so, it was calculated to raise a blush to the 
cheek of virtue. A wag replied: "There is no cheek about virtue^" 
And so the ball was kept rolling. And we left without having formed 
the faintest idea as to whether the State should interfere with the amuse- 
ments of the people or not ; whether it should limit its interference to 
the enforcement of decency and propriety ; what those terms signify for 
the practical purpose ; whether in any case it should delegate this duty to 
Jocal authorities, and, if so, to what authorities ; whether it should itself 
take the initiative, or leave it to persons considering themselves injured ; 
whether such alleged injury should be direct or indirect, and, in either 
case, what those expressions mean. However, a good deal of dust had 
been kicked up, and even the most cocksure of those who had entered 
the lists went out, I doubt not, with a conviction that there was a good 
deal to be said on all sides of the question. That, in itself, was an un- 
mixed good. 

Walking home, in the neighborhood of Oxford Circus, a respectable 
young woman asked if I would be good enough to tell her the nearest 
way to Russell Square. She had hardly got the words out of her mouth, 
when a policeman emerged from a doorway and charged her with solic- 
itation, asking me to accompany them to the station and sign the 
charge-sheet. Not being a member of the profession, of course the 
young woman had neglected to " pay her footing"; hence the official 
zeal. Old hands had with impunity accosted me at least a dozen times 
in the same street. I ventured to remonstrate, when I was myself 
charged with being drunk and attempting a rescue, and I should cer- 
tainly have ended my day in a State-furnished apartment, had not an- 
other keeper of the Queen's peace come alongside and drawn away my 
accuser, whispering something in his ear the while. I recognized the 
features of an old acquaintance with whom I have an occasional glass at 
the Bottle of Hay on my way home from the club. 

I reached home at last, and the events of the day battled with one an- 
other for precedence in my dreams. Freedom, order ; order, freedom. 
Which is it to be? When I arose in the morning, I tried to record the 
previous day's experiences just as they came to me, without offering any 
dogmatic opinion as to the rights and the wrongs of the several cases 
which arose. " I will send them," I said, " to the orgari of philosophic 
Anarchy in America, and, perhaps, in spite of their trivial character, 
they may be deemed to present points worthy of commeiit. " What 
a pity it is that we cannot put our London fogs in a bag and send them 
by parcel post to Boston for careful analysis ! 

Wordsworth Donisthorpe. 
London, England. 



{_Liberty, January 25, 1890.] 

The reader of Mr. Donisthorpe's article in this issue on 
" The Woes of an Anarchist " may rise from its perusal with 
a feeling of confusion equal to that manifested by the author, 
but at least he will say to himself that for genuine humor he 
has seldom read anything that equals it. For myself I have 
read it twice in manuscript and twice in proof, and still wish 
that I might prolong my life by the laughter that four more 
readings would be sure to excite. Mr. Donisthorpe ought to 
write a novel. But when he asks Liberty to comment on his 
woes and dissipate the fog he condenses around himself, I am 
at a loss to know how to answer him. For what is the moral 
of this article, in which a day's events are made to tell with 
equal vigor, now against State Socialism, now against capital- 
ism, now against Anarchism, and now against Individualism ? 
Simply this, — that in the mess in which we find ourselves, and 
perhaps in any state of things, all social theories involve their 
difficulties and disadvantages, and that there are some troubles 
from which mankind can never escape. Well, the Anarchists, 
despite the fact that Henry George calls them optimists, are 
pessimistic enough to accept this moral fully. They never have 
claimed that liberty will bring perfection ; they simply say 
that its results are vastly preferable to those that follow au- 
thority. Under liberty Mr. Donisthorpe may have to listen for 
some minutes every day to the barrel-organ (though I really 
think that it will never lodge him in the mad-house), but at 
least he will have the privilege of going to the music-hall in 
the evening ; whereas, under authority, even in its most hon- 
est and consistent form, he will get rid of the barrel-organ only 
at the expense of being deprived of the music-hall, and, in its 
less honest, less consistent, and more probable form, he may 
lose the music-hall at the same time that the is forced to en- 
dure the barrel-organ. As a choice of blessings, liberty is the 
greater ; as a choice of evils, liberty is the smaller. Then lib- 
erty always, say the Anarchists. No use of force, except 
against the invader ; and in those cases where it is difficult to 
tell whether the alleged offender is an invader or not, still no 
use of force except where the necessity of immediate solution 
is so imperative that we must use it to save ourselves. And 
in these few cases where we must use it, let us do so frankly 
and squarely, acknowledging it as a matter of necessity, without 


seeking to harmonize our action with any political ideal or con- 
structing any far-fetched theory of a State or collectivity hav- 
ing prerogatives and rights superior to those of individuals and 
aggregations of individuals and exempted from the operation 
of the ethical principles which individuals are expected to 
observe. But to say all this to Mr. Donisthorpe is like carry- 
ing coals to Newcastle, despite his catalogue of doubts and 
woes. He knows as well as I do that " liberty is not the 
daughter, but the mother of order." 


[Liberty^ May 24, 1890.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

Hooks-and-eyes are very useful. Hooks are useless ; eyes are use- 
less. Yet in combination they are useful. This is co-operation. Where 
you have division of labor and consequent differentiation of function 
and, eventually, of structure, there is co-operation. Certain tribes of 
ants have working members and fighting members. The military caste 
are unable to collect food, which is provided for them by the other mem- 
bers of the community, in return for which they devote themselves to the 
defence of the whole society. But for these soldiers the society would 
perish. If either class perished, the other class would perish with it. It 
is the old fable of the belly and the limbs. 

Division of labor does not always result in differentiation of structure. 
In the case of bees and many other insects we know that it does. 
Among mammals we have the well-marked structural division into males 
and females, but beyond this the tendency to fix structural changes is 
very slight. In races where caste prevails, the tendency is more marked. 
Even in England, where caste is extinct, it has been observed among the 
mining population of Northufnbria. And the notorious short-sightedness 
of Germans has been set down to compulsory book-study. 

As a general rule, we may neglect this effect of co-operation among 
human beings. The fact remains that the organized effort of 100 indi- 
viduals is a very great deal more effective than the sum of the efforts of 
100 unorganized individuals. Co-operation is an unmixed good. And the 
Ishmaelitic anarchy of the bumble-bee is uneconomic. Hostility to the 
principle of co-operation (upon which society is founded) is usually at- 
tributed by the ignorant to philosophical Anarchists. While Socialists 
never weary of pointing to the glorious triumphs of co-operation, and 
claiming them for Socialism. Wherever a number of persons join hands 
with the object of effecting a purpose otherwise unattainable, we have 
what is tantamount to a new force, — the force, of combination: and 
the persons so combining and regarded as a single body may be called 
by a narrie, — any name ; a Union, an Association, a Society, a Club, a 
Company, a Corporation, a State. I do not say all these terms denote 
precisely the same thing, but they all connote co-operation. I prefer to 


use the word Club to denote all such associations of men for a common 

Let the State be now abolished for the purposes of this discussion. 
How do we stand ? We have by no means abolished all the clubs and 
companies in which citizens find themselves grouped and interbanded. 
There they all are, just as before. Let us examine some of them. Stay ; 
there are a number of new ones, suddenly sprung up out of the debris 
of, the old State. 

Here are some eighty men organized in the form of a cricket-club. 
They may not pitch the ball as they like, but only in accordance with 
rigid laws. They elect a king or captain, and they bind themselves to 
obey him in the field. A member is told off to field at long-on, although 
he may wish to field at point. He must obey the despot. 

Here is a ring of horsemen. They ride races. They back their own 
horses. Disputes arise about fouling, or perhaps the course is a curve 
and some rider takes a short cut. Or the weights of the riders are un- 
equal, and the heavier rider claims to equalize the weights. All such 
matters are laid before a committee, and rules are drawn up by which all 
the members of the little racing club pledge themselves to be bound. 
The club grows : other riding or racing men join it or adopt its rules. 
At last so good are its laws that they are adopted by all the racing frater- 
nity in the island, and all racing disputes are settled by the rules of the 
Jockey Club. And even the judges of the land defer to them, and refer 
points of racing law to the Club. 

Here again is a knot of whalers chatting on the beach of a stormy sea. 
Each trembles for the safety of his own vessel. He would give some- 
thing to be rid of his uneasiness. All his eggs are in one basket. He 
would willingly distribute them over many baskets. He offers to take 
long odds that his own vessel is lost. He repeats the offer till the long 
odds cover the value of his ship and cargo, and perhaps profits and 
time. " Now," says he, " I am comfortable. It is true, I forfeit a small 
percentage ; but if my whole craft goes to the bottom, I lose nothing." 
He laughs and sings while the others go croaking about the sands, shak- 
ing their heads and looking fearfully at the breakers. At last they all 
follow his example, and the net result is a Mutual Marine Insurance So- 
ciety. After a while they lay the odds, not with their own members 
only, but with others ; and the risk being over-estimated (naturally at 
first), they make large dividends. But now difficulties arise. The cap- 
tain of a whaler has thrown cargo overboard in a heavy sea. The owner 
claims for the loss. The company declines to pay, on the ground that 
the loss was voluntarily caused by the captain and not by the hand of 
God or the king's enemies ; and that there would be no limit to jettison, 
if the claim were allowed. Other members meet with similar difficulties, 
and finally Rules are made which provide for all known contingencies. 
And when any dispute arises, the chosen Umpire, whetherjitbe a mutual 
friend, or an agora-full of citizens, or a department of State, or any other 
person or body of persons, refers to the common practice and precedents 
so far as they apply. In other words, the Rules of the Insurance Soci- 
ety are the law of the land. In spite of the State, this is so to-day to a 
considerable extent : I may say, in all matters which have not been 
botched and cobbled by statute. 

There is another class of club springing out of the altruistic sentiment. 
An old lady takes compassion on a starving cat (no uncommon sight in 
the West End of London after the Season). She puts a saucer of milk 
pnd some liver on the doorstep. She is soon recognized as a beti^f^gtresg 


and the cats for a mile round swarra to her household. The saucers in- 
crease and multiply, and the liver is an item in her butcher's bill. The 
strain is too great to be borne single-handed. She issues a circular appeal, 
and she is surprised to find how many are willing to contribute a fair share, 
although their sympathy shrivels up before an unfair demand. They are 
willing to be taxed pro rata, but they will not bear the burden of other 
people's stinginess. " Let the poor cats bear it rather," say they. " What 
is everybody's business is nobody's business. It is very sad, but it can- 
not be helped. If we keep one cat, hundreds will starve ; so what's the 
use ? " But when once the club is started, nobody feels the burden ; the 
Cats' Home is built and endowed, and all goes well. Hospitals, infirma- 
ries, alms-houses, orphanages, spring up all round. At first they are 
reckless and indiscriminate, and become the prey of impostors and able- 
bodied vagrants. Then Rules are framed ; the Charity Organization So- 
ciety co-ordinates and directs public benevolence. And those rules of 
prudence and economy are copied and adopted in many respects by those 
who administer the State Poor Law. 

Then we have associations of persons who agree on important points of 
science or politics. They wish to make others think with them, in order 
that society may be pleasanter and more congenial for themselves. They 
would button-hole every man in the street and argue the question out 
with him ; but the process is too lengthy and wearisome. They club to- 
gether and form such institutions as the British and Foreign Bible Society, 
which has spent seven million pounds in disseminating untruths all over 
the world. We have the Cobden Club, which is slowly and sadly dying 
of inconsistency after a career of merited success. We have scientific so- 
cieties of all descriptions that never ask or expect a penny reward for all 
their outlay, beyond making other people wiser and pleasanter neighbors. 

Finally, we have societies banded together to do battle against rivals on 
the principle of "Union is strength." These clubs are defensive or ag- 
gressive. The latter class includes all trading associations, the object of 
which is to make profits by out-manoeuvring competitors. The former 
or defensive class includes all the political societies formed for the pur- 
pose of resistinjg the State, — the most aggressive club in existence. Over 
one hundred of these " protection societies " of one sort and another are 
now federated under the hegemony of the Liberty and Property Defence 

Now we have agreed that the Stat3 is to be abolished. What is the re- 
sult ? Here are Watch Committees formed in the great towns to prevent 
and to insure against burglars, thieves, and like marauders. How they 
are to be constituted I do not clearly know ; neither do I know the limits 
of their functions. Here again is a Mutual Inquest Society to provide 
for the examination of dead persons before burial or cremation, in order 
to make murder as unprofitable a business as possible. Here is a Vigi- 
lance Association sending out detectives for the purpose of discovering and 
lynching the unsocial wretches who knowingly travel in public convey- 
ances with infectious diseases on them. Here is a journal supported 
by consumers for the advertisement of adulterating dealers. And here 
again is a Filibustering Company got up by adventurous traders of the 
old East India Company stamp for the purpose of carrying trade into for- 
eign countries with or without the consent of the invaded parties. Here 
is a Statistical Society devising Rules to make it unpleasant for those who 
evade registration and the census, and offering inducement to all who fur- 
nish the required information. What sort of organization (if any) will be 
formed for the enforcement (not necessarily by brute-force) of contract? 


Or will there be many such organizations dealing with different classes of 
contract ? Will there be a Woman's League to boycott any man who has 
abused the confidence of a woman and violated his pledges? How will it 
try and sanction cases of breach of promise ? 

Above all, how is this powerful Company for the defence of the country 
against foreign invaders to be constituted ? And what safeguards will its 
members provide against the tyranny of the officials ? When a Senator 
proposed to limit the standing army of the United States to three thou- 
sand, George Washington agreed, on condition that the honorable member 
would arrange that the country should never be invaded by more than two 
thousand. Frankenstein created a Monster he could not lay. This will 
be a nut for Anarchists of the future to crack. 

And now, to revert to the Vigilance Society formed for lynching per- 
sons who travel about in public places with small-pox and scarletina, what 
rules will they make for their own guidance ? Suppose they dub every 
unvaccinated person a "focus of infection," shall we witness the establish- 
ment of an Anti- Vigilance Society to punch the heads of the detectives 
who punch the heads of the " foci of infection"? Remember, we have 
both these societies in full working order to-day. One is called the State, 
and the other is the Anti- Vaccination Society. 

The questions which I should wish to ask, and which I should wish Mr. 
Herbert Spencer, Mr. Auberon Herbert, Mr. Benjamin Tucker, and Mr. 
Victor Yarros to answer, are chiefly these two : 

1. How far may voluntary co-operators invade the liberty of others? 
And what is to prevent such invasion under a system of Anarchy? 

2. Is compulsory co-operation ever desirable ? And what form (if any) 
should such compulsion take ? 

The existing State is obviously only a conglomeration of several large 
societies which would exist separately or collectively in its absence ; if the 
State were abolished, these associations would necessarily spring up out of 
its ruins, just as the nations of Europe sprang out of the ruins of the Ro- 
man Empire. They would apparently lack the power of compulsion. No 
one would be compelled to join against his will. Take the ordinary case 
of a gas-lit street. Would a voluntary gas-comimittee be willing to light the 
street without somehow taxing all the dwellers in the street ? If yes, then 
there is inequity. The generous and public-spirited pay for the stingy and 
mean. But if no, then how is the taxing to be accomplished ? And where 
is the line to he drawn ? If you compel A to pay for lighting the street 
when he swears he prefers it dark (a householder may really prefer a dark 
street to a light one, if he goes to bed at sunset and wants the traffic to be 
diverted into other streets to insure his peace) ; then you will compel him 
to subscribe to the Watch fund, though his house is burglar-proof ; and to 
the fire brigade, though his house is fire-proof ; and to the prisons as part 
of the plant and tools of the Watch Committee ; and, it may logically be 
urged, to the churches and schools as part also of such plant and tools 
for the prevention of certain crimes. 

Moreover, if you compel him to subscribe for the gas in the street, you 
must make him pay his share of the street itself (paving, repairing, and 
cleansing) ; and if the street, then the highway ; and if the highway, then 
the railway, and the canal, and the bridges, and even the harbors and light- 
houses and other common apparatus of transport and locomotion. 

Personally, as an individualist, I would not compel a citizen to subscribe 
to common benefits, even though he necessarily shares them. But what I 
want the four lights of Anarchy above-named to tell me is : How are we 
to remove the injustice of ^llowingj one man to ?njoy what another ha? 


earned? My questions are quite distinct. Thus an army under the system 
of conscription is a case of compulsory co-operation : a band of brigands 
is a case of voluntary co-operation. I hate both. I would join a volun- 
tary association directed against either or both. Neither do I put these 
questions in order to cast doubts on the feasibility of Anarchy at the pres- 
ent time. I ask merely for information from those wrho are, in my opin- 
ion, best able to give it. 

Wordsworth Donisthorpe, 
London, England, 


\Liberty, May 24, 1890.] 

It is questionable whether Herbert Spencer will relish Mr. 
Donisthorpe's classification of him as one of four lights of 
Anarchy. I think he would be justified in putting in a dis- 
claimer. No doubt Anarcliy is immeasurably indebted to Mr. 
Spencer for a phenomenally clear exposition of its bottom 
truths. But he entertains heresies on the very questions 
which Mr. Donisthorpe raises that debar him from recogni- 
tion as an Anarchist. His belief in compulsory taxation and 
his acceptance of the majority principle, not as a temporary 
necessity, but as permanently warranted within a certain 
sphere, show him to be unfaithful to his principle of equal 
liberty, as Mr. Donisthorpe has convincingly demonstrated in 
his recent book on " Individualism." I am sure that his 
answers to Mr. Donisthorpe's questions would widely differ 
from any that Mr. Yarros or myself could possibly make. 

When it comes to Auberon Herbert, the community of 
thought is closer, as on practical issues he is pretty nearly at 
one with the attitude of Liberty. But I fancy that Mr. Donis- 
thorpe would have difficulty in driving all three of us into the 
same corner. Before he had gone far, the ethical question of 
the nature of right would arise, and straightway Mr. Yarros 
and myself would be arrayed with Mr. Donisthorpe against 
Mr. Herbert. 

As one of the two remaining " lights of Anarchy " appealed 
to, I will try to deal briefly with Mr. Donisthorpe's questions. 
To his first : " How far may voluntary co-operators invade 
the liberty of others ? " I answer : Not at all. Under this 
head I have previously made answer to Mr. Donisthorpe, and 
as to the adequacy or inadequacy of this answer he has as yet 
made no sign. For this reason I repeat my words. " Then 


liberty always, say the Anarchists. No use of force, except 
against the invader ; and in those cases where it is difficult to 
tell whether the alleged offender is an invader or not, still no 
use of force except where the necessity of immediate solution 
is so imperative that we must use it to save ourselves. And 
in these few cases where we must use it, let us do so frankly 
and squarely, acknowledging it as a matter of necessity, with- 
out seeking to harmonize our action with any political ideal 
or constructing any far-fetched theory of a State or collectivity 
having prerogatives and rights superior to those of individuals 
and aggregations of individuals and exempted from the opera- 
tion of the ethical principles which individuals are expected 
to observe." This is the best rule that I can frame as a guide 
to voluntary co-operators. To apply it to only one of Mr. 
Donisthorpe's cases, I think that under a system of Anarchy, 
even if it were admitted that there was some ground for 
considering an unvaccinated person an invader, it would be 
generally recognized that such invasion was not of a char- 
acter to require treatment by force, and that any attempt to 
treat it by force would be regarded as itself an invasion of 
a less doubtful and more immediate nature, requiring as such 
to be resisted. 

But under a system of Anarchy how is such resistance to 
be made ? is Mr. Donisthorpe's second question. By another 
band of voluntary co-operators. But are we then, Mr. Donis- 
thorpe will ask, to have innumerable bands of voluntary co- 
operators perpetually at war with each other ? Not at all. A 
system of Anarchy in actual operation implies a previous 
education of the people in the principles of Anarchy, and that 
in turn implies such a distrust and hatred of interference that 
the only band of voluntary co-operators which could gain sup- 
port sufficient to enforce its will would be that which either 
entirely refrained from interference or reduced it to a mini- 
mum. This would be my answer to Mr. Donisthorpe, were I 
to admit his assumption of a state of Anarchy supervening 
upon a sudden collapse of Archy. But I really scout this as- 
sumption as absurd. Anarchists work for the abolition of the 
State, but by this they mean not its overthrow, but, as Prou- 
dhon put it, its dissolution in the economic organism. This 
being the case, the question before us is not, as Mr. Donis- 
thorpe supposes, what measures and means of interference we 
are justified in instituting, but which ones of those already 
existing we should first lop off. And to this the Anarchists 
answer that unquestionably the first to go should be those 

th^t interfere niost fuR^fii'n^nt^P}' ^ith a, fr^^ mwket, and 


that the economic and moral changes that would result from 
this would act as a solvent upon all the remaining forms of 

" Is compulsory co-operation ever desirable ? " Compulsory 
co-operation is simply one form of invading the liberty of 
others, and voluntary co-operators will not be justified in re- 
sorting to it — that is; in becoming compulsory co-operators — 
any more than resorting to any other form of invasion. 

" How are we to remove the injustice of allowing one man 
to enjoy what another has earned ? " I do not expect it ever 
to be removed altogether. But I believe that for every dollar 
that would be enjoyed by tax-dodgers under Anarchy, a thou- 
sand dollars are now enjoyed by men who have got possession 
of the earnings of others through special industrial, com- 
mercial, and financial privileges granted them by authority in 
violation of a free market. 

In regard to the various clubs referred to by Mr. Donis- 
thorpe as based on an intolerance that is full of the spirit of 
interference, I can only say that probably they will cease to 
pattern after their great exemplar, the State, when the State 
shall no longer exist, and that meantime, if intolerant bigots 
choose to make petty tyranny a condition of association with 
them, we believers in liberty have the privilege of avoiding 
their society. Doesn't Mr. Donisthorpe suppose that we can 
stand it as long as they can ? 


{^Liberty., February 26, 1887.] 
Dear Tucker : 

Since the occasion wiien you so arbitrarily side-tracked me in the edi- 
torial columns of Liberty,* certain notions of self-respect in connection 
with your attitude towards me have bid me pause whenever I attempted 

* The writer of this letter, Mr. Henry Appleton, was one of Liberty's 
original editorial contributors, and remained such for five years. At ths 
end of that time he publicly took a position not in harmony with that of 
the paper, on a point of great importance, and it became necessary that 
his editorial contributions should cease. At the same time he was cor- 
dially invited to freely make use of the other departments of the paper 
for the expression of his views. He never availed himself of this invita- 
tion further than to write the above letter, which, with the editor's reply, 
is included in this volume because, in spite of the personal nature of the 

contrgversy, important questions of principle are also dealt with, 


to state my present position, and wherein I feel that I have outgrown the 
partial methods by which you seek to deal with existing social maladjust- 
ments. I did send a communication to the Truth Seeker, but Macdonald, 
though he had just published your communication, chose to even out-do 
your side-tracking method of discipline by dumping me out of his col- 
umns altogether. But, lest I should be suspected of sneaking out of the 
ranks through cowardice, policy, or some other unworthy consideration, 
I will waive my own personality in behalf of right thinking, and state 
my case as fully as space and the magnitude of the subject will permit. 

Every subject dealing with radical reform has two main terms, — viz., 
its basic philosophic statement and its resultant protest. The basic 
statement, or affirmation, of our propaganda is the Sovereignty of the In- 
dividual, around which the whole science of Individualism is built, — con- 
ditioned by liberty and the cost principle, (i) Its protest is aimed at arbi- 
trary force which ignores individual consent, and the label which you 
borrowed from Proudhon by which to designate it is "Anarchism." 

Fully at one with Josiah Warren's grand affirmation, I was as fully at 
one with the righteousness of your protest, and, paying little regard as 
to whether you grabbed the beast of authority by the head or the tail, 
pulled off my coat and went in with you to haul him out of his hole. 
Whether this business was called Anarchy or not was to me, for the time 
being, of little account, being sure that it was righteous and telling 

But few numbers of Liberty\i&& appeared, when the esteemed personal 
friends whom I had induced to subscribe for it all had me by the collar 
with this one question : " Well, allowing that your protest is all right, 
what have you to substitute for the existing order?" 

"Why," I replied, "the order contemplated grows out of the science 
of Individualism, the corner-stone of which is our basic philosophic affir- 

" Oh, yes, I see," replied a Judge of the United States Circuit Court ; 
"then you and Tucker belong to an order of social scientists who put 
their protest ahead of their affirmation, and thus propose to move society 
tail-end-to. Where is your constructive side ? Give us that, and the pro- 
test, which is simply its logical deduction, will take care of itself." 

I replied to him and others that the paper was small and new, but that 
the constructive end would certainly be held up on a level with the pro- 
testing. So I set to work, and for a long time was bent upon making 
every article of mine bear upon our philosophy. I think a review of the 
first volume of Liberty will show that nearly every article explaining its 
philosophy and method was from my pen. (2) 

But the temptation to fight and kick and scratch and bite, instead of 
educate and construct, was constantly after me. Many a resolve did I 
make to leave the fighting department to you, and attend strictly to the 
educational, but, alas ! proved too weak, till finally a well-developed 
habit of personal sparring, countering, dropping to avoid punishment, 
etc., resulted in something akin to outright "slugging," when the pro- 
prietor of the ring put me outside the ropes, while Sister Kelly flung after 
me the taunt of compromise, and Brother Lloyd cried out : Is this a free 
fight ? (3) 

Now, friend Tucker, these not very enviable experiences were the re- 
sult of one fatal mistake in the beginning of your work, — and one which 
a truly scientific propagandist should never fall victim to. It is that you 
projected your propaganda from the protest rather than from the basic 
affirmation of Liberty. The affirmation is primarv. the protest is second- 

TMe individual, society, and the stAtE. io^r 

ary. Though the protest logically leads back to the affirmation, the 
process is always the unnatural one of walking backwards. If you develop 
your propaganda logically from step to step, as projected from your affir- 
mation, the protests go along with it and are always fortified in the 
accompanying philosophical base of supplies. Meanwhile education and 
construction are the natural work in hand. But if you start out by de- 
ploying recklessly ahead with your protest, the process of walking back- 
wards to your base of supplies is so unnatural, and the temptation to 
fight instead of construct so great, that you soon fight yourself so far 
away from your supplies that the objector naturally cries out on every 
side : "Well, what have you behind you, whither would you lead us, and 
what shall protect us when you get there ? " You must therefore take 
every individual recruit back to your philosophical commissary depart- 
ment, where you do not take it with you. (4) 

As to the term Anarchism, I have grown to be convinced that it is 
partial, vague, misleading, and not a comprehensive scientific comple- 
ment of Individualism. If it means a protest against the existing polit- 
ical State, then I am, of course, an Anarchist. You say that it means 
more, and includes a protest against every invasion of individual right. 
But this is merely a convenient assumption, not warranted by its ety- 
mology, which is purely of political origin. Proudhon, from whom you 
borrowed it, used it only when speaking of political application of gov- 
ernment. Most, Parsons, and Seymour base their protest against the 
existing political State on Communism, their model of social order. 
You base yours on voluntary co-operation of individual sovereigns, — your 
model. Now, if Anarchism is merely a protest against the existing State, 
then, as friend Morse truly says, you have no more right to say that they 
are not Anarchists than they have to say that you are not one. If you 
are all Anarchists, and become such from principles in direct antagonism 
to each other, then who is an Anarchist and who is not, and what relia- 
bility attaches to it as a scientific protest ? (5) 

Moreover, every man has the right to be understood. If you stretch 
the scope of Anarchy beyond the political sphere, then it plainly comes 
to mean without guiding principle, — the very opposite of what Individual- 
ism logically leads to. Anarchy means opposed to the archos, or politi- 
cal leader, because the motive principle of politics is force. If you take 
the arckos out of politics, he becomes the very thing you want as an Indi- 
vidualist, since he is a leader by voluntary selection. It will not do, then, 
to stretch the scope of Anarchism beyond political government, else you 
defeat your own purpose. It must, therefore, stay within the boundaries 
of politics, and, staying there, is only a partial and quite unscientific term 
to cover the whole protest which complements Individualism. (6) 

When I am asked if I am an Anarchist, the person who asks it wants to 
know if I am the kind of person he thinks I am,— one believing in no 
guiding principle of social administration. In duty to myself I am obliged 
to say no. This is the eternal mischief which follows from defining one's 
self through his protest, rather than his affirmation. It is a position which 
everyone owes to himself to keep out of, where the protest is deduced 
from a philosophical system. All the Protestant sects define themselves 
by their affirmations and not by their protests, and so should all scientific 
systems of sociology. The protest is none the less strong — yea, far 
stronger — when carried along as a complement to the principles which 
create it, rather than as a main term, — the creature usurping the domain 
of its creator. (7) 

As an Individualist, I find the political State a consequent rather than 


an antecedent. By making your protest your main term, the State must 
be made antecedent, which it is not. If you thinlc the State the efficient 
cause of tyranny over individuals, I take it you are beclouded in a most 
radical delusion, into which I coiald easily turn a flood of light, had 1 not 
already encroached -too much on your space. The State is a variable 
quantity, — expanding just in proportion as previous surrenders of individ- 
ual sovereignty give it material. The initial cause is, however, the sur- 
rendering individual, the State being only possible after the surrender. 
Hence the individual is the proper objective point of reform. As he is re- 
formed, the State disappears of itself. (8) 

This subject is so rich in thought that I could fill the whole edition of 
Liberty, and then not have said half that is still pertinent to what I have 
begun. Having already spent too much of my life in fighting and trying 
to pull things around by the tail rather than by the head and heart, I pro- 
pose to spend the remainder of it in constructive educational work. Fight- 
ing with tongue and pen is simply a process of spiritual killing, differing 
from other killing only in method. While there is so much pressing con- 
structive work to be done, I prefer to leave the fighting line of propaganda 
to those whose temperament and constitution make them better fighters 
than builders. So go on kicking up the Anarchistic dust at the tail end of 
the beast of despotism, but pardon me if, having been a reform tail-twister 
all my life, I am trying to get a little nearer the head and horns of the 
beast and finish up ray work on that end. 

Unnatural government inevitably follows unnatural conditions, and mere 
scolding and kicking and protesting to all eternity will never change this 
stern law of nature by v/hich she secures self-preservation. That diseased 
form of social administration known as the State belongs in nature to that 
diseased condition known as centralization, in place of localization. New 
York and other cities, the places where the State chiefly draws its material 
for rent, usury, and individual slavery in general, are ulcers on the face of 
this planet. Localize their populations over the soil, with individuals 
not only claiming, but utilizing, their right to the soil and other means of 
sovereignty, and nineteen-twentieths of the State in this country would 
cease to be. Yet thousands of miserable servile wretches in New York 
will go to labor meetings and shout, " The land belongs to the people !" 
while they cannot be coaxed or whipped out of this stinking nest of usury 
and political corruption, though you should offer them plenty of good 
land for nothing. In fact, large tracts across the river in New Jersey can 
be had for next to nothing, the young men of those sections preferring to 
let their fathers' homes and lands rot and run to waste in order to crowd 
into New York with the rest of the vulgar herd, with future visions of du- 
plicated Jay Goulds in mind. I say that, until we can get more manly and 
sober incentive into individuals, the New Yorks and Chicagos will press 
and stink themselves into such intolerable political corruption and general 
demoralization that the merciful torch alone can rid humanity of them. 
To cry Anarchy in such communities is futile, unless you cry it in its worst 
sense, and that is already .well-nigh realized. 

Yet, friend Tucker, you have always treated with contempt my proposal 
to warn individuals to get out of these cities and colonize on the soil, un- 
der conditions that alone make voluntary government possible. You say 
great cities are blessings, and that the proper thing for these low-motived, 
noisy wretches who cry in labor meetings, "The land for the people ! " is 
to stay right here and fight it out. You seem possessed with the unfortu- 
nate delusion that natural government is possible in this crowded hole, 
where even the rich sleep in brown-stone stalls, and the surroundings of 


great masses of the people are more than beastly. So long as industry, 
commerce, and domicile are centralized, the necessary conditions of indi- 
vidual sovereignty are physically impossible, while usury is invited, and 
the patched-up fraud which goes by the name of government becomes the 
necessary arrangement for holding the diseased conditions together, pend- 
ing the inevitable day when fire and dynamite will come to remove these 
social ulcers, in order that the general body social may survive. I sincerely 
hope you will look into these matters more seriously, and insist on lo- 
calization, the social expression of Individualism, (g) 

The name Liberty, so artistically inscribed on your editorial shingle, ex- 
presses neither the affirmation nor the protest of our system, but is simply 
an auxiliary term between them. I think it unfortunate that your paper 
was not named "The Individualist," and I have in mind a name even 
nearer the centre than that. Had our propaganda been started on the cen- 
tre from the first, we should probably have been far along in the construc- 
tive educational work, rather than come to whipping about in the tangle- 
brush of misunderstanding. But it is probably all for the best, and, what- 
ever may be the mistakes of its pioneers, the new structure is bound by 
and by to take definite shape and avert the social suicide which the exist- 
ing order is so rapidly precipitating. (10) 

Henry Appleton. 

The foregoing article has been in my hands some time, the 
pressure on these columns having compelled its postponement. 
To this delay of several weeks in publication, however, I am 
the more easily reconciled by the fact that its writer had 
himself affected its timeliness, nearly as much as was possible, 
by a delay of several months in its preparation. The " arbi- 
trary side-tracking " of which he complains, and out of which 
it grows, occurred last August, and, if his defensive protest 
seems at all stale in February, it should be remembered that 
it would not have charmed by its freshness in January. But 
principles never grow old, and, looked at in their light, Mr. 
Appleton's words are as wise or as foolish to-day as they ever 
were or ever will be. 

Speaking exactly, all voluntary acts are arbitrary, inasmuch 
as they are performed in the exercise of will, and in that sense 
of course the " side-tracking " of Mr. Appleton was an ar- 
bitrary act. But in no objectionable sense was it arbitrary, in 
no sense was it despotic. Mr. Appleton having announced 
that the principal object for which he and I had so long edi- 
torially co-operated had become to him a secondary and com- 
paratively trivial object, it should have been evident to him, 
as it was to me and to nearly everybody else, that our co-oper- 
ation in future could not be what it had been. After such a 
declaration, my act became a matter of course. Instead of 
being despotic, it was almost perfunctory. He took the side 
track himself ; I but officially registered his course. 

I appreciate the spirit of condescension and self-abasement 


which has finally permitted Mr. Appleton to continue con- 
troversy with so unworthy an antagonist as myself and to 
place himself on a level with that inferior race of beings who 
write for Liberty non-editorially, and in this obliteration of 
self I feebly emulate him by consenting to let him fill these 
columns with his defence or explanation after he had ignored 
the invitation which I had extended him to do so long enough 
to ascertain that he could not procure its publication else- 

After these preliminaries, I may proceed to consider Mr. 
Appleton's arguments, numbering the points as I deal with 
them, to avoid the necessity of repeating the statements 

(i) I do not admit anything, except the existence of the 
individual, as a condition of his sovereignty. To say that the 
sovereignty of the individual is conditioned by Liberty is 
simply another way of saying that it is conditioned by itself. 
To condition it by the cost principle is equivalent to institut- 
ing the cost principle by authority, — an attempted fusion of 
Anarchism with State Socialism which I have always under- 
stood Mr. Appleton to rebel against. 

(2) To bear out this statement Mr. Appleton would have 
to prove himself the author of nearly every article that ap- 
peared in the first volume of Liberty, whereas, as a general 
thing, he wrote but one article for each number. Nine tenths 
of the editorial matter printed in Liberty has been written to 
explain its philosophy and method. It is true that Mr. Apple- 
ton has used the words philosophy and method oftener than 
any other writer, but mere repetition of the words is neither 
philosophical nor rationally methodical. I am far from saying 
here that Mr. Appleton's articles were not philosophical ; I 
am only insisting that their philosophical character was not 
due to the use of the word philosophy, and that others which 
used the word less frequently or not at all were quite as phil- 
osophical as his. 

(3) Whatever fighting Mr. Appleton has done in Liberty, he 
has done of his own motion. It has always been his privilege 
to use these columns as freely as he chose (within certain 
limits of space) for " constructive educational work " on the 
basis of individual sovereignty. He has written as he pleased 
on what subjects he pleased, with seldom even a suggestion 
from me. In any conflict with me he has always been the 
attacking party. 

(4) It is true that the affirmation of individual sovereignty 
is logically precedent to protest against authority as such. But 


in practice they are inseparable. To protest against the in- 
vasion of individual sovereignty is necessarily to affirm indi- 
vidual sovereignty. The Anarchist always carries his base of 
supplies with him. He cannot fight away from it. The 
moment he does so he becomes an Archist. This protest 
contains all the affirmation that there is. As I have pointed 
out to Comrade Lloyd, Anarchy has no side that is affirma- 
tive in the sense of constructive. Neither as Anarchists 
nor — what is practically the same thing — as individual sov- 
ereigns have we any constructive work to do, though as pro- 
gressive beings we have plenty of it. But, if we had perfect 
liberty, we might, if we chose, remain utterly inactive and still 
be individual sovereigns. Mr. Appleton's unenviable exper- 
iences are due to no mistake of mine, but to his own»folly in 
acknowledging the pertinence of the hackneyed cry for con- 
struction, which loses none of its nonsense on the lips of 
a Circuit Court Judge. 

(5) I have asked friend Morse whether he ever made the 
statement here attributed to him, and he says that he never 
did. But I scarcely needed to ask him. He and I have not 
kept intellectual company these fifteen years to the end that 
he should so misunderstand me. He knows perfectly well 
that I base my assertion that the Chicago Communists are not 
Anarchists entirely on the ground that Anarchism means 
a protest against every form of invasion. (Whether this 
definition is etymologically correct I will show in the next 
paragraph.) Those who protest against the existing political 
State, with emphasis on the existing, are not Anarchists, but 
Archists. In objecting to a special form or method of in- 
vasion, they tacitly acknowledge the rightfulness of some 
other form or method of invasion. Proudhon never fought 
any particular State ; he fought the institution itself, as 
necessarily negative of individual sovereignty, whatever form 
it may take. His use of the word Anarchism shows that he 
considered it coextensive with individual sovereignty. If his 
applications of it were directed against political government, 
it was because he considered political government the only 
invader of individual sovereignty worth talking about, having 
no knowledge of Mr. Appleton's " comprehensive philosophy," 
which thinks it takes cognizance of a " vast mountain of gov- 
ernment outside of the organized State." The reason why 
Most and Parsons are not Anarchists, while I am one, is be- 
cause their Communism is another State, while my voluntary 
co-operation is not a State at all. It is a very easy matter to 
tell who is an Anarchist and who is not. One question will 


always readily decide it. Do you believe in any form of im- 
position upon the human will by force ? If you do, you are 
not an Anarchist. If you do not, you are an Anarchist. What 
can any one ask more reliable, more scientific, than this ? 

(6) Anarchy does not mean simply opposed to the archos, 
or political leader. It means opposed to arche. Now, arche, 
in the first instance, means beginning, origin. From this it 
comes to mean a first principle, an eletnent ; then first place, 
supreme power, sovereignty, dominion, command, authority ; and 
finally a sovereignty, an empire, a realm, a magistracy, a govern- 
mental office. Etymologically, then, the word anarchy may 
have several meanings, among them, as Mr. Appleton says, 
without guiding principle, and to this use of the word I have 
never objected, always striving, on the contrary, to interpret 
in accordance with their definition the thought of those who 
so use it. But the word Anarchy as a philosophical term and 
the word Anarchist as the name of a philosophical sect were 
first appropriated in the sense of opposition to dominion, to 
authority, and are so held by right of occupancy, which fact 
makes any other philosophical use of them improper and con- 
fusing. Therefore, as Mr. Appleton does not make the polit- 
ical sphere coextensive with dominion or authority, he cannot 
claim that Anarchy, when extended beyond the political sphere, 
necessarily comes to mean without guiding principle, for it may 
mean, and by appropriation does mean, without dominion, with- 
out authority. Consequently it is a term which completely and 
scientifically covers the individualistic protest. 

(7) The misunderstandings of which Mr. Appleton has been 
a victim are not the result of his defining himself through his 
protest, for he would not have avoided them had he defined 
himself through his affirmation and called himself an Individ- 
ualist. I could scarcely name a word that has been more 
abused, misunderstood, and misinterpreted than Individualism. 
Mr. Appleton makes so palpable a point against himself in in- 
stancing the Protestant sects that it is really laughable to see 
him try to use it against me. However it may be with the 
Protestant sects, the one great Protestant body itself was born 
of protest, suckled by protest, named after protest, and lived 
on protest until the days of its usefulness were over. If such 
instances proved anything, plenty of them might be cited 
against Mr. Appleton. For example, taking one of more re- 
cent date, I might pertinently inquire which contributed most 
to the freedom of the negro, — those who defined themselves 
through their affirmations as the Liberty Party or as Coloniza- 
tionists, or those who defined themselves through their protests 


as the Anti-Slavery Society or as Abolitionists. Unquestion- 
ably the latter. And when human slavery in all its forms 
shall have disappeared, I fancy that the credit of the victory 
will be given quite as exclusively to the Anarchists, and that 
these latter-day Colonizationistp, of whom Mr. Appleton has 
suddenly become so enamored, will be held as innocent of its 
overthrow as are their predecessors and namesakes of the over- 
throw of chattel slavery. 

(8) It is to be regretted that Mr. Appleton took up so much 
space with other matters that he could not turn his " flood of 
light " into my " delusion " that the State is the efficient cause 
of tyranny over individuals ; for the question whether this is 
a delusion or not is the very heart of the issue between us. 
He has asserted that there is a vast mountain of government 
outside of the organized State, and that our chief battle is 
with that ; I, on the contrary, have maintained that practically 
almost all the authority against which we have to contend is 
exercised by the State, and that, when we have abolished the 
State, the struggle for individual sovereignty will be well-nigh 
over. I have shown that Mr. Appleton, to maintain his posi- 
tion, must point out this vast mountain of government and tell 
us definitely what it is and how it acts, and this is what the 
readers of Liberty have been waiting to see him do. But he 
no more does it in his last article than in his first. And his 
only attempt to dispute my statement that the State is the 
efficient cause of tyranny over individuals is confined to two or 
three sentences which culminate in the conclusion that the 
initial ca.n%e: is the surrendering individual. I have never de- 
nied it, and am charmed by the air of innocence with which 
this substitution of initial for efficient is effected. Of initial 
causes finite intelligence knows nothing ; it can only know 
causes as more or less remote. But using the word initial in 
the sense of remoter, I am willing to admit, for the sake of 
the argument (though it is not a settled matter), that the 
initial cause was the surrendering individual. Mr. Appleton 
doubtless means voluntarily surrendering individual, for com- 
pulsory surrender would imply the prior existence of a power 
to exact it, or a primitive form of State. But the State, hav- 
ing come into existence through such voluntary surrender, 
becomes a positive, strong, growing, encroaching institution, 
which expands, not by further voluntary surrenders, but by 
exacting surrenders from its individual subjects, and which 
contracts only as they successfully rebel. That, at any rate, is 
what it is to-day, and hence it is the efficient cause of tyranny. 
The only sense, then, in which it is true that " the individual 


is the proper objective point of reform " is this, — that he must 
be penetrated with the Anarchistic idea and taught to rebel. 
But this is not what Mr. Appleton means. If it were, his 
criticism would not be pertinent, for I have never advocated 
any other method of abolishing the State. The logic of his 
position compels another interpretation of his words, — namely, 
that the State cannot disappear until the individual is per- 
fected. In saying which, Mr. Appleton joins hands with 
those wise persons v/ho admit that Anarchy will be practi- 
cable when the millennium arrives. It is an utter abandon- 
ment of Anarchistic Socialism. No doubt it is true that, if 
the individual could perfect himself while the barriers to his 
perfection are standing, the State would afterwards disappear. 
Perhaps, too, he could go to heaven, if he could lift himself 
b}' his boot-straps. 

(9) If one must favor colonization, or localization, as Mr. 
Appleton calls it, as a result of looking " seriously " into these 

'matters, then he must have been trifling with them for a long 
time. He has combatted colonization in these columns more 
vigorously than ever I did or can, and not until comparatively 
lately did he write anything seeming to favor it. Even then he 
declared that he was not given over to the idea, and seemed 
only to be making a tentative venture into a region which he 
had not before explored. If he has since become a settler, it 
only indicates to my mind that he has not yet fathomed the 
real cause of the people's wretchedness. That cause is State 
interference with natural economic processes. The people are 
poor and robbed and enslaved, not because " industry, com- 
merce, and domicile are centralized,"- — in fact, such centrali- 
zation has, on the whole, greatly benefited them, — but because 
the control of the conditions under which industry, commerce, 
and domicile are exercised and enjoyed is centralized. The 
localization needed is not the localization of persons in space, 
but of powers in persons, — that is, the restriction of power to 
self and the abolition of power over others. Government 
makes itself felt alike in country and in city, capital has its 
usurious grip on the farm as surely as on the workshop, and 
the oppressions and exactions of neither _ government nor 
capital can be avoided by migration. L'Etat, c'est I'ennemi. 
The State is the enemy, and the best means of fighting it can 
only be found in communities already existing. If there 
were no other reason for opposing colonization, this in itself 
would be sufficient. 

(10) I do not know what Mr. Appleton means when he calls 
Liberty an auxiliary term between the afifirmation and the 


protest of our system, and I doubt if he knows himself. 
That it expresses practically the same idea as " The Individu- 
alist" and is a much better name for a paper I think most 
persons will agree. If, " had our propaganda been started on 
the centre from the first, we should probably have been far 
along in constructive educational work," and if, assuming, that 
we are not far along in it, it is " probably all for the best," 
then it is probably all for the best that our propaganda was 
not started on the centre, assuming that it was not so started ; 
and in that case what is all this fuss about ? Optimists should 
never complain. 


\_Liberty^ January i, 1887.! 

" There is nothing any better than Liberty and nothing any 
worse than despotism, be it the theological despotism of the 
skies, the theocratic despotism of kings, or the democratic 
despotism of majorities ; and the labor reformer who starts 
out to combat the despotism of capital with other despotism 
no better lacks only power to be worse than the foe he en- 
counters." These are the words of my brother Pinney of 
the Winsted Press, Protectionist and Greenbacker, — that is, 
a man who combats the despotism of capital with that despot- 
ism which denies the liberty to buy foreign goods untaxed 
and that despotism which denies the liberty to issue notes to 
circulate as currency. Mr. Pinney is driven into this incon- 
sistency by his desire for high wages and an abundance of 
money, which he thinks it impossible to get except through 
tariff monopoly and money monopoly. But religious despot- 
tism pleads a desire for salvation, and moral despotism pleads 
a desire for purity, and prohibitory despotism pleads a desire 
for sobriety. Yet all these despotisms lead to hell, though all 
these hells are paved with good intentions ; and Mr. Pinney's 
hells are just as hot as any. The above extract shows that 
he knows Liberty to be the true way of salvation. Why, 
then, does he not steadily follow it ? 



{Lii>eriy, January 22, 1887,] 

Mr. Pinney, editor of an exceedingly bright paper, the Win- 
sted Fress, recently combated prohibition in the name of 
Liberty. Thereupon I showed him that his argument was 
equally good against his own advocacy of a tariff on imports 
and an exclusive government currency. Carefully avoiding 
any allusion to the analogy, Mr. Pinney now rejoins : " In 
brief, we are despotic because we believe it is our right to de- 
fend ourselves from foreign invaders on the one side and 
wild-cat swindlers on the other." Yes, just as despotic as the 
prohibitionists who believe it is their right to defend themselves 
from drunkards and rumsellers. In another column of the 
same issue of the Fress I find a reference to a " logical Pro- 
crustean bed " kept in Liberty's office to which I fit my friends 
and foes by stretching out and lopping off their limbs. It is a 
subject on which the dismembered Mr. Pinney speaks feel- 


{^Li&erty, February 12, 1887,] 

Continuing his controversy with me regarding the logic of 
the principle of liberty, Mr. Pinney of the Winsted Fress says : 

There is no analogy between prohibition and the tariff ; the tariff pro- 
hibits no man from indulging his desire to trade where he pleases. It is 
simply a tax. It is slightly analogous to a license tax for the privilege of 
selling liquor in a given territory, but prohibition, in theory if not in prac- 
tice, is an entirely different matter. 

This is a distinction without a difference. The so-called 
prohibitory liquor law prohibits no man, even theoretically, 
from indulging his desire to sell liquor ; it simply subjects the 
man so indulging to fine and imprisonment. The tax imposed 
by the tariff law and the fine imposed by the prohibitory law 
share alike the nature of a penalty, and are equally invasive of 
liberty. Mr. Pinney's argument, though of no real validity in 
any case, would present at least a show of reason in the mouth 

of a "revenue r^fprmer"; but, coming froni one who scorns 


the idea of raising revenue by the tariff and who has declared 
explicitly that he desires the tariff to be so effectively prohib- 
itory that it shall yield no revenue at all, it lacks even the 
appearance of logic. 

Equally lame is Mr. Finney's apology for a compulsory 
money system. 

As for the exclusive government currency which we advocate, and 
which Mr. Tucker tortures into prohibition of individual property scrip, 
there is just as much analogy as there is between prohibition and the 
exclusive law-making, treaty-making, war-declaring, or any other powers 
delegated to government because government better than the individual 
can be intrusted with and make use of these powers. 

Just as much, I agree ; and in this I can see a good reason 
why Mr. Pinney, who started out with the proposition that 
" there is nothing any better than liberty and nothing any 
worse than despotism," should oppose law-making, treaty- 
making, war-declaring, etc., but none whatever why he should 
favor an exclusive government currency. How much " tor- 
ture " it requires to extract the idea of " prohibition of indi- 
vidual property scrip" from the idea of an ^''exclusive govern- 
ment currency" our readers will need no help in deciding, unless 
the word " exclusive " has acquired some new meaning as 
unknown to them as it is to me. 

But Mr. Pinney's brilliant ideas are not exhausted yet. He 
continues : 

Government prohibits the taking of private property for public uses 
without just compensation. Therefore, if we fit Mr. Tucker's Procrus- 
tean bed, we cannot sustain this form of prohibition and consistently op- 
pose prohibition of liquor drinking ! This is consistency run mad, " anal- 
ogy " reduced to an absurdity. We are astonished that Mr. Tucker can 
be guilty of it. 

So am I. Or rather, I should be astonished if I had been 
guilty of it. But I haven't. To say nothing of the fact that 
the governmental prohibition here spoken of is a prohibibion 
laid by government upon itself, and that such prohibitions can 
never be displeasing to an Anarchist, it is clear that the taking 
of private property from persons who have violated the rights 
of nobody is invasion, and to the prohibition of invasion no 
friend of liberty has any objection. Mr. Pinney has already 
resorted to the plea of invasion as an excuse for his advocacy 
of a tariff, and it would be a good defence if he could estab- 
lish it. But I have pointed out to him that the pretence that 
the foreign merchant who sells goods to American citizens or 
the. individual who offers his I Q U are invaders is as flimsy 


as the prohibitionist's pretence that the rumseller and the 
drunkard are invaders. Neither invasion nor evasion will re- 
lieve Mr. Pinney of his dilemma. If he has no more effective 
weapons, what[he dubs " Boston analogy " is in no danger from 
his assaults, , 


\Liherty, March 12, 1887.] 

It is the habit of the wild Westerner, whenever he cannot 
answer a Bostonian's arguments, to string long words into long 
sentences in mockery of certain fancied peculiarities of the 
Boston mind. Editor Pinney of the Winsted Press is not 
exactly a wild Westerner, but he lives just far enough beyond 
the confines of Massachusetts to enable him to resort to this 
device in order to obscure the otherwise obvious necessity of 
meeting me on reason' s ground. His last reply to me fruit- 
lessly fills two-thirds of one of his long columns with the 
sort of buncombe referred to, whereas that amount of space, 
duly applied to solid argument, might have sufficed to show 
one of us in error. Whatever the characteristics of Boston 
intellect, generically speaking, in the particular Bostonian with 
whom he is now confronted Mr. Pinney would see, were he a 
student of human nature, an extremely hard-headed individual, 
about whose mind there is nothing celestial or supermundane 
or aesthetic or aberrant, and whose only dialectics consists in 
searching faithfully for the fundamental weakness of his ad- 
versary's position and striking at it with swift precision, or 
else, finding none such, in acknowledging defeat. But human 
nature — at least, Boston- human nature— being a puzzle to Mr. 
Pinney, he mistakes me for a quibbler, a disputatious advocate, 
and a lover of logomachy. Let us see, then, by whom lo- 
gomachy was first employed in this discussion. 

In an unguarded moment of righteous impatience with the 
folly of the prohibitionists Mr. Pinney had given utterance 
to some very extreme and Anarchistic doctrine. I applauded 
him, and ventured to call his attention to one or two forms of 
prohibition other than that of the liquor traffic, equally repug- 
nant to his theory of liberty and yet championed by him. 
One of these was the tariff. He answered me that " there is 
no analogy between prohibition and the tariff ; the tariff oro- 


hibits no man from indulging his desire to trade where he 
pleases." ' Right here logomachy made its first appearance, 
over the word " prohibit." I had cited two forms of State in- 
terference with trade, each of which in practice either annoys 
it or hampers it or effectively prevents it, according to circum- 
stances. This analogy in substantial results presented a diffi- 
culty, which Mr. Pinney tried to overcome by beginning a dis- 
pute over the meaning of the word "prohibit," — a matter of 
only formal moment so far as the present discussion is con- 
cerned. He declared that the tariff is not like the prohibitory 
liquor law, inasmuch as it prohibits nobody from trading 
where he pleases. A purely nominal distinction, if even that; 
consequently Mr. Pinney, in passing it off as a real one, was 
guilty of quibbling. 

But I met Mr. Pinney on his own ground, allowing that, 
speaking exactly, the tariff does not prohibit, but adding, on 
the other hand, that neither does the so-called prohibitory 
liquor law ; that both simply impose penalties on traders, in 
the one case as a condition, in the other as a consequence, of 
carrying on their trades. Hence my analogy still stood, and 
I expected it to be grappled with. But no. Mr. Pinney, in 
the very breath that he protests against quibbling, insists on 
his quibble by asking if prison discipline is, then, so lax that 
convicted liquor sellers can carry on their business within the 
walls, and by supposing that I would still think prohibition 
did not prohibit, if the extreme penalty for liquor selling were 
decapitation. I do not dispute the fact that a man cannot 
carry on the liquor business as long as he is in prison, nor can 
Mr. Pinney dispute the fact that a man cannot sell certain 
foreign goods in this country as long as he cannot raise the 
money to pay the tariff ; and while I am confident that de- 
capitation, if rigorously enforced, would stop the liquor traffic, 
I am no less sure that the effect on foreign traffic would be 
equally disastrous were decapitation to be enforced as a tax 
upon importers. On Mr. Pinney's theory the prohibitory 
liquor laws could be made non-prohibitory simply by chang- 
ing the penalties from imprisonments to fines. The absurdity 
of this is evident. 

But, if I were to grant that Mr. Pinney's quibble shows that 
there is no analogy between a prohibitory liquor law and 
a revenue tariff (which I do not grant, but deny), it would 
still remain for him to show that there is no analogy between 
a prohibitory liquor law and such a tariff as he favors, — one so 
high as to be absolutely prohibitory and yield no revenue at all, 
^QX else admit his inconsistency in opposing the former and 


not the latter. He has not attempted to meet this point, even 
with a quibble. 

One other point, however, he does try to meet. To my 
statement that his position on the abstract question of liberty 
involves logically opposition to government in all its functions 
he makes this answer : 

Between puritan meddling witli a man's domestic affairs, and necessary 
government regulation of matters which the individual is incompetent to 
direct, yet which must be directed in order to secure to the individual his 
rightful liberty, there is a distance sufficiently large to give full play to our 
limited faculties. 

But who is to judge what government regulation is "neces- 
sary " and decide what matters " the individual is incompetent 
to direct " ? The majority ? But the majority are just as 
likely to decide that prohibition is necessary and that the in- 
dividual is incompetent to direct his appetite as that a tariff is 
necessary and that the individual is incompetent to make his 
own contracts. Mr. Pinney, then, must submit to the will of 
the majority. His original declaration, however, was that 
despotism was despotism, whether exercised by a monarch or 
a majority. This drives him back upon liberty in all things. 
For just as he would object to the reign of a monarch disposed 
to administer affairs rationally and equitably simply because 
he was a monarch, so he must object to the reign of a majority, 
even though its administration were his ideal, simply because 
it is a majority. Mr. Pinney is trying to serve both liberty 
and authority, and is making himself ridiculous in the at- 


{Liberiy, August 13, 1887.] 

The Winsted Press makes a long leader to ridicule the 
Anarchists for favoring private enterprise in the letter-carry- 
ing business. It grounds its ridicule on two claims, — first, 
that private enterprise would charge high rates of postage, 
and, second, that it would not furnish transportation to out- 
of-the-way points. An indisputable fact has frequently been 
cited in Liberty which instantly and utterly overthrows both 
pf these claims. Its frequent citation, however, has ha,d pQ 


effect upon the believers in a government postal monopoly. 
I do not expect another repetition to produce any effect upon 
the Winsted Press; still I shall try it. 

Some half-dozen years ago, when letter postage was still 
three cents, Wells, Fargo & Co. were doing a large business in 
carrying letters throughout the Pacific States and Territories. 
Their rate was five cents, more than three of which they ex- 
pended, as the legal monopoly required, in purchasing of the 
United States a stamped envelope in which to carry the letter 
intrusted to their care. That is to say, on every letter which 
they carried they had to pay a tax of more than three cents. 
Exclusive of this tax, AVells, Fargo & Co. got less than two cents 
for each letter which they carried, while the government got 
three cents for each letter which it carried itself, and more than 
three cents for each letter which Wells, Fargo & Co. carried. 
On the other hand, it cost every individual five cents to send 
by Wells, Fargo & Co., and only three to send by the govern- 
ment. Moreover, the area covered was one in which im- 
mensity of distance, sparseness of population, and irregulari- 
ties of surface made out-of-the-way points unusually difficult 
of access. Still, in spite of all these advantages on the side 
of the government, its patronage steadily dwindled, while that 
of Wells, Fargo & Co. as steadily grew. Pecuniarily this, of 
course, was a benefit to the government. But for this very 
reason such a condition of affairs was all the more mortify- 
ing. Hence the postmaster-general sent a special commis- 
sioner to investigate the matter. He fulfilled his duty and 
reported to his superior that Wells, Fargo & Co. were com- 
plying with the law in every particular, and were taking away 
the business of the government by furnishing a prompter and 
securer mail service, not alone to principal points, but to more 
points and remoter points than were included in the govern- 
ment list of post-offices. 

Whether this state of things still continues I do not know. 
I presume, however, that it does, though the adoption of two- 
cent postage may have changed it. In either case the fact 
is one that triumphs over all possible sarcasms. In view 
of it, what becomes of Editor Pinney's fear of ruinous rates 
of postage and his philanthropic anxiety on account of the 
dwellers in Wayback and Hunkertown ? 



[Liberty^ September lo, 1887.] 

Appreciating the necessity of at least seeming to meet the 
indisputable fact which I opposed to its championship of gov- 
ernment postal monopoly, the Winsted Press presents the fol- 
lowing ghost of an answer, which may be as convincing to 
the victims of political superstition as most materializations 
are to the victims of religious superstition, but which, like 
those materializations, is so imperceptible to the touch of the 
hard-headed investigator that, when he puts his hand upon it, 
he does not find it there. 

The single instance of Wells, Fargo & Co., cited by B. R. Tucker to 
prove the advantage of private enterprise as a mail carrier, needs fuller 
explanation of correlated circumstances to show its true significance. 
As stated by Mr. Tucker, this company half a dozen years ago did a 
large business carrying letters throughout the Pacific States and Terri- 
tories to distant and sparsely populated places for five cents per letter, 
paying more than three to the government in compliance with postal 
law and getting less than two for the trouble, and, though it cost the 
senders more, the service was enough better than government's to se- 
cure the greater part of the business. 

This restatement of my statement is fair enough, except 
that it but dimly conveys the idea that Wells, Fargo & Co. 
were carrying, not only to distant and sparsely populated 
places, but to places thickly settled and easy of access, and 
were beating the government there also, — a fact of no little 

Several facts may explain this : i. Undeveloped government service 
in a new country, distant from the^ seat of government. 

Here the ghost appears, all form and no substance. 
" John Jones is a better messenger than John Smith," de- 
clares the Winsted Press, " because Jones can run over 
stony ground, while Smith cannot." " Indeed !" I answer ; 
" why, then, did Smith outrun Jones the other day in going 
from San Francisco to Wayback ? " " Oh ! that may be ex- 
plained," the Press rejoins, " by the fact that the ground was 
stony." The Press had complained against the Anarchistic 
theory of free competition in postal service that private en- 
terprise would not reach remote points, while government 
does reach them. I proved by facts that private enterprise 


was more successful than government in reaching remote 
points. What sense, then, is there in answering that these 
points are distant from the government's headquarters and 
that it had not developed its service ? The whole point lies 
in the fact that private enterprise was the first to develop its 
service and the most successful in maintaining it at a high 
degree of efficiency. 

2. Government competition which kept Wells & Fargo from charging 
monopoly prices. 

If the object of a government postal service is to keep 
private enterprise from charging high prices, no more striking 
illustratiori of the stupid way in which government works to 
achieve its objects could be cited than its imposition of a tax 
of two (then three) cents a letter upon private postal com- 
panies. It is obvious that this tax was all that kept Wells, 
Fargo & Co. from reducing their letter-rate to three or even 
two cents, in which case the government probably would 
have lost the remnant of business which it still commanded. 
This is guarding against monopoly prices with a vengeance ! 
The competitor, whether government or individual, who must 
tax his rival in order to live is no competitor at all, but a 
monopolist himself. It is not government competition that 
Anarchists are fighting, but government monopoly. It should 
be added, however, that, pending the transformation of gov- 
ernments into voluntary associations, even government com- 
petition is unfair, because an association supported by com- 
pulsory taxation could always, if it chose, carry .the mails at 
less than cost and tax the deficit out of the people. 

3. Other paying business which brought the company into contact with 
remote districts and warranted greater safeguards to conveyance than 
government then offered to its mail carriers. 

Exactly. What does it prove ? Why, that postal service 
and express service can be most advantageously run in con- 
junction, arid that private enterprise was the first to find it out. 
This is one of the arguments which the Anarchists use. 

4. A difference of two cents was not appreciated in a country where 
pennies were unknown. 

Here the phantom attains the last degree of attenuation. 
If Mr. Pinney will call at the Winsted post-ofifice, his post- 
master will tell him — what common sense ought to have 
taught him — that of all the stamps used not over five per 
cent, are purchased singly, the rest being taken two, three, 

124 I^jSteAd oi* A 6O0K. 

five, ten, a hundred, or a thousand at a time. CalifornianS 
are said to be very reckless in the matter of petty expendi- 
tures, but I doubt if any large portion of them would carry 
their prodigality so far as to pay five dollars a hundred for 
stamps when they could get them at three dollars a hundred 
on the next corner. 

These conditions do not exist elsewhere in this country at present. 
Therefore the illustration proves nothing. 

Proves nothing ! Does it not prove that private enterprise 
outstripped the government under the conditions that then 
and there existed, which were difficult enough for both, but 
extraordinarily embarrassing for the former ? 

We know that private enterprise does not afford express facilities to 
sparsely settled districts throughout the country. 

I know nothing of the kind. The express companies cover 
practically the whole country. They charge high rates to 
points difficult of access ; but this is only just. The govern- 
ment postal rates, on the contrary, are unjust. It certainly is 
not fair that my neighbor, who sends a hundred letters to 
New York every year, should have to pay two cents each on 
them, though the cost of carriage is but one cent, simply be- 
cause the government spends a dollar in carrying for me one 
letter a year to Wayback, for which I also pay two cents. It 
may be said, however, that where each individual charge is so 
small, a schedule of rates would cause more trouble and ex- 
pense than saving ; in other words, that to keep books would 
be poor economy. Very likely ; and in that case no one 
would find it out sooner than the private mail companies. 
This, however, is not the case in the express business, where 
parcels of all sizes and weights are carried. 

No more would it mail facilities. A remarkable exception only proves 
the rule. But, if private enterprise can and will do so much, why doesn't 
it do it now? The law stands no more in the way of Adams Express 
than it did in the way of the Wells & Fargo express. 

This reminds me of the question with which Mr. Pinney 
closed his discussion with me regarding free money. He de- 
sired to know why the Anarchists did not start a free money 
system, saying that they ought to be shrewd enough to devise 
some way of evading the law. As if any competing business 
could be expected to succeed if it had to spend a fortune 
in contesting lawsuits or in paying a heavy tax to which its 
rival was not subject ! So handicapped, it could not possibly 
succeed unless its work was of such a nature as to admit the 


widest range of variation in point of excellence. This was 
the case in the competition between Wells, Fargo & Co. and 
the government. The territory covered was so ill-adapted to 
postal facilities that it afforded a wide margin for the display 
of superiority, and Wells, Fargo & Co. took advantage of this 
to such an extent that they beat the government in spite of 
their handicap. But in the territory covered by Adams Ex- 
press it is essentially different. There the postal service is so 
simple a matter that the possible margin of superiority would 
not warrant an extra charge of even one cent a letter. But I 
am told that Adams Express would be only too glad of the 
chance to carry letters at one cent each, if there were no tax 
to be paid on the business. If the governmentalists think 
that the United States can beat Adams Express, why do they 
not dare to place the two on equal terms ? That is a fair ques- 
tion. But when a man's hands are tied, to ask him why he 
doesn't fight is a coward's question. 


[Liierly, August 4, 1888.] 

Uncle Sam carries one hundred pounds of newspapers two thousand 
miles for two dollars, and still pays the railroad three times too much for 
mail service. An express company would charge twenty dollars for the 
same service ; yet some people don't know why all express stockholders 
are millionaires and the people getting poorer. In fact, some people 
don't know anything at all and don't want to. It is very unfortunate 
that such people have votes. — The Anti-Monopolist. 

Yes, Uncle Sam carries one hundred pounds of newspapers 
two thousand miles, not for two dollars, but for one dollar, 
pays the railroad more than its services are worth, and loses 
about five dollars a trip. 

Yes, an express company would charge twenty dollars for the 
same service, because it knows it would be folly to attempt to 
compete with the one-dollar rate, and therefore charges for its 
necessarily limited business such rates as those who desire a 
guarantee of promptness and security are willing to pay. 

Uncle Sam nevertheless continues to carry at the one-dollar 
rate, knowing that this is a good way to induce the newspapers 
to wink at his villainies, and that he can and does make up in 
two ways his loss of five dollars a trip, — i, by carrying one 
hundred pounds of letters two thousand miles for thirty-two 


dollars and forbidding anybody else to carry them for less, 
although the express companies would be glad of the chance 
to do the same service for sixteen dollars ; and, 2, by taking 
toll from all purchasers of whiskey and tobacco at home, and 
of various other articles from foreign countries. 

And yet some people don't know why the thousands of 
officeholders who are pulling away at the public teats are get- 
ting fat while the people are getting poorer. In fact, some 
people don't know anything at all except_, as Josh Billings said, 
" a grate menny things that ain't so." It is very unfortunate 
that such people are intrusted with the editing of newspapers. 


ILiierty, July 7, 1888.] 

In Henry George may be seen a pronounced type of the 
not uncommon combination of philosopher and juggler. He 
possesses in a marked degree the faculty of luminous exposi- 
tion of a fundamental principle, but this faculty he supple- 
ments with another no less developed, — that of so obscuring 
the connection between his fundamental principle and the 
false applications thereof which he attempts that only a mind 
accustomed to analysis can detect the flaw and the fraud. We 
see this in the numerous instances in which he has made a 
magnificent defence of the principle of individual liberty in 
theory, only to straightway deny it in practice, while at the 
same time palming off his denial upon an admiring follow- 
ing as a practical affirmation. Freedom of trade is the surest 
guarantee of prosperity ; ergo, there must be perfect liberty of 
banking ; presto ! there shall be no issue of money save by the 
government. Here, by the sly divorce of money-issuing from 
banking, he seems to justify the most ruinous of monopolies 
by the principle of liberty. And this is but an abridgment of 
the road by which he reaches very many of his practical con- 
clusions. His simplicity and clearness as a philosopher so win 
the confidence of his disciples that he can successfully play 
the rSle of a prestidigitator before their very eyes. They do 
not notice the transformation from logic to legerdemain. For 
a certain distance he proceeds carefully, surely, and straight- 
forwardly by the method of ergo; and then, when the minds 
of his followers are no longer on the alert, presto ! he suddenly 
shouts, and in a twinkling they are switched off upon the track 


of error without a suspicion that they are not still bound direct 
for truth. It is this power to prostitute a principle to the fur- 
therance of its opposite, to use truth as a tool of falsehood, 
that makes Mr. George one of the most dangerous men among 
all those now posing as public teachers. 

One of the. latest and craftiest of his offences in this direc- 
tion was committed in the Standard of June 23 in a discus- 
sion of the copyright problem. A correspondent having raised 
the question of property in ideas, Mr. George discusses it 
elaborately. Taking his stand upon the principle that pro- 
ductive labor is the true basis of the right of property, he ar- 
gues through three columns, with all the consummate ability 
for which credit is given him above, to the triumphant vindi- 
cation of the position that there can rightfully be no such 
thing as the exclusive ownership of an idea. 

No man, he says, " can justly claim ownership in natural 
laws, nor in any of the relations which may be perceived by 
the human mind, nor in any of the potentialities which nature 
holds for it. . . . Ownership comes from production. It 
cannot come from discovery. Discovery can give no right of 
ownership. . . . No man can discover anything which, so 
to speak, was not put there to be discovered, and which some 
one else might not in time have discovered. If he finds it, it 
was not lost. It, or its potentiality, existed before he came. 
It was there to be found. ... In the production of any ma- 
terial thing — a machine, for instance — there are two separable 
parts, — the abstract idea or principle, which may be usually 
expressed by drawing, by writing, or by word of mouth ; and 
the concrete form of the particular machine itself, which 
is produced by bringing together in certain relations certain 
quantities and qualities of matter, such as wood, steel, brass, 
brick, rubber, cloth, etc. There are two modes in which labor 
goes to the making of the machine, — the one in ascertaining 
the principle on which such machines can be made to work ; 
the other in obtaining from their natural reservoirs and bring- 
ing together and fashioning into shape the quantities and 
qualities of matter which in their comlaination constitute the 
concrete machine. In the first mode labor is expended in dis- 
covery. In the second mode it is expended in production. 
The work of discovery may be done once for all, as in the 
case of the discovery in prehistoric time of the principle or 
idea of the wheelbarrow. But the work of production is re- 
quired afresh in the case of each particular thing. No matter 
how many thousand millions of wheelbarrows have been pro- 
duced, it requires fresh labor of production to make another 

128 Instead of a book. 

one. . . . The natural reward of labor expended in discov- 
ery is in the use that can be made of the discovery with- 
out interference with the right of any one else to use it. But 
to this natural reward our patent laws endeavor to add an arti- 
ficial reward. Although the effect of giving to the discoverers 
of useful devices or processes an absolute right to their exclu- 
sive use would be to burden all industry with most grievous 
monopolies, and to greatly retard, if not put a stop to, further 
inventions, yet the theory of our patent laws is that we can 
stimulate discoveries by giving a modified right of ownership 
in their use for a term of years. In this we seek by special 
laws to give a special reward to labor expended in discovery, 
which does not belong to it of natural right, and is of the na- 
ture of a bounty. But as for labor expended in the second of 
these modes, — in the production of the machine by the bring- 
ing together in certain relations of certain quantities and qual- 
ities of matter, — we need no special laws to reward that. 
Absolute ownership attaches to the results of such labor, not 
by special law, but by common law. And if all human laws, 
were abolished, men would still hold that, whether it were a 
wheelbarrow or a phonograph, the concrete thing belonged to 
the man who produced it. And this, not for a term of years, 
but in perpetuity. It would pass at his death to his heirs or 
to those to whom he devised it." 

The whole of the preceding paragraph is quoted from Mr. 
George's article. I regard it as conclusive, unanswerable. It 
proceeds, it will be noticed, entirely by the method of ergo. 
But it is time for the philosopher to disappear. He has done 
his part of the work, which was the demolition of patents. 
Now it is the prestidigitator's turn. It remains for him to jus- 
tify copyright, — that is, property, not in the ideas set forth in 
a book, but in the manner of expressing them. So juggler 
George steps upon the scene. Presto! he exclaims : "Over 
and above any ' labor of discovery ' expended in thinking out 
what to say, is the ' labor of production ' expended on how to 
say it." Observe how cunningly it is taken for granted here 
that the task of giving literary expression to an idea is labor 
of production rather than labor of discovery. But is it so ? 
Right here comes in the juggler's trick ; we will subject it to 
the philosopher's test. The latter has already been quoted : 
" The work of discovery may be done once for all . . . but the 
work of production is required afresh in the case of each par- 
ticular thing." Can anything be plainer than that he who does 
the work of combining words for the expression of an idea 
saves just that amount of labor to all who thereafter choose 

ttit Individual, society, AkD the state. ti^ 

to use the same words in the same order to express the same 
idea, and that this work, not being required afresh in each 
particular case, is not work of production, and that, not being 
work of production, it gives no right of property ? In quoting 
Mr. George above I did not have to expend any labor on " how 
to say " what he had already said. He had saved me that 
trouble. I simply had to write and print the words on fresh 
sheets of paper. These sheets of paper belong to me, just as 
the sheets on which he wrote and printed belong to him. But 
the particular combination of words belongs to neither of us. 
He discovered it, it is true, but that fact gives him no rignt to 
it. Why not ? Because, to use his own phrases, this combi- 
nation of words " existed potentially before he came"; "it 
was there to be found "; and if he had not found it, some one 
else would or might have done so. The work of copying or 
printing books is analogous to the production of wheelbar- 
rows, but the original work of the author, whether in thinking 
or composing, is analogous to the intfention of the wheelbar- 
row ; and the same argument that demolishes the right of the 
inventor demolishes the right of the author. The method of 
expressing an idea is itself an idea, and therefore not appro- 

The exposure is complete. But will Mr. George acknowl- 
edge it ? Not he. He will ignore it, as he has ignored similar 
exposures in these columns of his juggling with the questions 
of rent, interest, and money. The juggler never admits an 
exposure. It would be ruinous to his business. He lies low 
till the excitement has subsided, and then " bobs up serenely " 
and suavely to hoodwink another crowd of greenhorns with 
the same old tricks. Such has been juggler George's policy 
heretofore ; such it will be hereafter. 


{Liberty, August 2, 1890.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

Will you permit tne to aslc you for the definition, from an Anarchistic 
standpoint, of the " Right of Ownership " ? What do you mean to con- 
vey when you say that a certain thing belongs to a certain person ? 

Before directing my attention to the study of the social question, I had 
a rather confused notion of the meaning of this term. Ownership ap- 
peaKedlomea kind of amalgamation of wealth with the individual. This 
conception could, of course, not be sustained in an analysis of the social 


question and the distribution of wealth. For some time I could not 
obtain a cleir notion as to what the term, as popularly used, really signi- 
fies, nor could I find a satisfactory definition in any of the books I had at 
command. The writers of dictionaries content themselves with quoting 
a number of synonyms which throw no light on the subject, and the writ- 
ers on Political Economy seem not to bother themselves about such trifles. 
They need no solid foundations for their theories since they build their 
castles in the air. It is said that ownership is the " exclusive right of 
possession," but this explanation fails to meet the inquiry of him who can 
nowhere find a satisfactory explanation of the import of the term "right." 

It is clear that a radical distinction exists between possession and own- 
ership, though these concepts are in a measure related to each other. It 
seems reasonable, therefore, to expect to find a clue by examining the dis- 
tinction that exists between the possessor and the owner of a thing. And 
this examination is not difEcuIt. The owner of a thing which for some 
reason is in the possession of some one else may demand its return, and, 
if it is not returned willingly, /Ae aid of the law can be invoked. This 
leads to the conclusion that the right of ownership is that relation be- 
tween a thing and a person created by the social promise to guarantee 

This is the only definition that appears satisfactory to me. But it im- 
plies the existence of a social organization, however crude it may be. It 
implies that a supreme power will enforce the command : "Thou shalt 
not steal." And in the measure in which this social organization gains 
stability and in which this social power gains a more universal suprem- 
acy, the right of ownership will assume a more definite existence. 

Now I can perhaps repeat my question in a way to be better under- 
stood. Has Anarchism a different conception of the right of ownership, 
or is this right altogether repudiated, or is it assumed that out of the 
ruins of government another social organization, wielding a supreme 
power, will arise? I can at present see no other alternative. 

» Hugo Bilgkam. 

In discussing such a question as this, it is necessary at the 
start to put aside, as Mr. Bilgram doubtless does put aside, the 
intuitive idea of right, the conception of right as a standard 
which we are expected to observe from motives supposed to be 
superior to the consideration of our interests. When I speak 
of the " right of ownership," I do not use the word " right " in 
that sense at all. In the thought that I take to be funda- 
mental in Mr. Bilgram's argument — namely, that there is no 
right, from the standpoint of society, other than social expedi- 
ency — I fully concur. But I am equally certain that the 
standard of social expediency — that is to say, the facts as to 
what really is socially expedient, and the generalizations from 
those facts which we may call the laws of social expediency 
— exists apart from the decree of any social power whatever. 
In accordance with this view, the Anarchistic definition of the 
right of ownership, while closely related to Mr. Bilgram's, is 
such a modification of his that it does not carry the implica- 
tion which his carries and which he points out. From an An- 


archistic standpoint, the right of ownership is that control of a 
thing by a person which will receive either social sanction, or 
else unanimous individual sanction, when the laws of social 
expediency shall have been finally discovered. (Of course I 
might go farther and explain that Anarchism considers the 
greatest amount of liberty compatible with equality of liberty 
the fundamental law of social expediency, and that nearly all 
Anarchists consider labor to be the only basis of the right of 
ownership in harmony with that law ; but this is not essential 
to the definition, or to the refutation of Mr. Bilgrara's point 
against Anarchism.) 

It will be seen that the Anarchistic definition just given 
does not imply necessarily the existence of an organized or in- 
stituted social power to enforce the right of ownership. It 
contemplates a time when social sanction shall be superseded 
by unanimous individual sanction, thus rendering enforcement 
needless. But in such an event, by Mr. Bilgram's definition, 
the right of ownership would cease to exist. In other words, 
he seems to think that, if all men were to agree upon a prop- 
erty standard and should voluntarily observe it, property would 
then have no existence simply because of the absence of any 
institution to protect it. Now, in the view of the Anarchists, 
property would then exist in its perfection. 

So I would answer Mr. Bilgram's question, as put in his 
concluding paragraph, as follows : Anarchism does not repu- 
diate the right of ownership, but it has a conception thereof 
sufficiently different from Mr. Bilgram's to include the possi- 
bility of an end of that social organization which will arise, 
not out of the ruins of government, but out of the transfor- 
mation of government into voluntary association for defence. 


[Liberty, June 7, i8go.] 

In an unsigned article in the Open Court (written, I suspect 
by the editor) I find the following : 

When Anarchists teach the sovereignty of the individual, we have to 
inform them that society is an organized whole. The individual is what 
he is through the community only, and he must obey the laws that govern 
the growth of communal life. The more voluntary this obedience is, the 
better it is for the community as well as for the individual himself. But 
if th? indivi(Jual 4oes not voluntarily obey the laws of the comrounity, gq- 


ciety has a right to enforce them. There is no such thing as sovereignty 
of the individual. 

True, there is no such thing ; and we Anarchists mean that 
there shall be such a thing. The criticism of the Open Court 
vi^riter is doubtless valid against those Anarchists who premise 
the sovereignty of the individual as a natural right to which 
society has no right to do violence. But I cannot understand 
its force at all when offered, as it is, in comment on the decla- 
ration of " a leading Anarchist of Chicago " that the goal of 
progress is individual sovereignty. 

Anarchism of the " natural right " type is out of date. The 
Anarchism of to-day affirms the right of society to coerce the 
individual and of the individual to coerce society so far as 
either has the requisite power. It is ready to admit all that 
the Open Court writer claims in behalf of society, and then go 
so far beyond him that it will take his breath away. 

But, while admitting and affirming all this, Anarchism also 
maintains (and this is its special mission) that an increasing 
familiarity with sociology will convince both society and the 
individual that practical individual sovereignty — that is, the 
greatest amount of liberty compatible with equality of liberty 
— is the law of social life, the only condition upon which hu- 
man beings can live in harmony. When this truth is ascer- 
tained and acted upon, then we shall have individual sover- 
eignty in reality, — not as a sacred natural right vindicated, 
but as a social expedient agreed upon, or we will even say 
as a privilege conferred, if the Open Court writer prefers the 
word as tending to tickle the vanity of his god. Society. It 
is in this sense that Liberty champions individual sovereignty. 
The motto on our flag is not " Liberty a Natural Right," but 
" Liberty the Mother of Order." 

It is to be hoped that the Open Court writer will note this 
before again giving voice to the commonplace twaddle about 
Nationalism and Anarchism as extreme opposites both of 
which are right and both wrong. Anarchism is exactly as ex- 
treme, exactly as right, and exactly as wrong, as that " ideal 
state of society^ " which the Open Court writer pictures, — " a 
state in which there is as much order as possible and at the 
same time as much individual liberty as possible." In fact. 
Anarchism finds itself exactly coextensive with the idea which 
its critic thus expresses ; " Wherever a nation is developing 
in the line of progress, we shall always notice an increas- 
ing realization of these two apparently antagonistic principles, 
■ — liberty and order," 



[Liberty^ January 25, 1890.] 

The New Abolition Party, nominally of the United States, 
but really limited at present (pending the time when it is to 
"sweep the country like a wave '") by the walls of the Individ- 
ualist office at Denver, started out with eight demands ; and, 
taken as a whole, very good demands they were. Lately it 
has added a ninth ; just why, I don't know, unless New Abo- 
lition was jealous of Liberalism and bound to have as many 
demands. This explanation seems hardly reasonable, because 
in the case of Liberalism nine does not seem to have proved 
a magic number for demand purposes. However this may be, 
it is certain that the ninth demand is a square contradiction of 
some of the most important of its eight other demands, notably 
the fifth and seventh. The ninth demand is for " collective 
mamtenance and control of all public highways, waterways, 
railways, canals, ditches, reservoirs, telegraphs, telephones, 
ferries, bridges, water works, gas works, parks, electric plants, 
etc., to be operated in the interest of the people." The seventh 
demand is for "immediate and unconditional repeal of all 
forms of compulsory taxation." The fifth demand is for 
" immediate and unconditional repeal of all statutes that in 
any way interfere with free trade between individuals of the 
same or of different countries." Suppose that Mr. Stuart (the 
father of New Abolition) and I live on the same side of a 
river. I have a boat; Mr. Stuart has none. Mr. Stuart comes 
to me and says : " How much will you charge to row me across 
the river? " " Ten cents," I answer. " It is a bargain, " says 
Mr. Stuart, and he steps into the boat. But up steps at the 
same time the New Abolition party in the shape of a police- 
man (and it will have to take that shape, because in these mat- 
ters a demand without a blue coat on its back and a club in 
its hand is an ineffective demand) and says to me : " See here! 
stop that ! Don't you know that the New Abolition party, 
which at the last election ' swept the country like a wave,' in- 
undated your row-boat with the rest by instituting the ' collec- 
tive maintenance and control of all ferries ' ? If you attempt 
to row Mr. Stuart across the river, I shall confiscate your boat 
in the name of the law." And then, addressing Mr. Stuart, 
the policeman adds : " So you may as well get out of that 
^oat and take the ferrj^-boat which the New Abolitionists have 


already provided." " Officer, you are exceeding your duty," 
hotly replies Mr. Stuart ; " I have made a bargain with Mr. 
Tucker, and, if you were at all qualified for your post, you 
would know that the New AboHtion party demanded, in the 
platform upon which it ' swept the country like a wave,' the 
' immediate and unconditional repeal of all statutes that in any 
way interfere with free trade.' " " Yes," I say, hastening to put 
in my oar (I use the word metaphorically, not referring at all 
to my boat-oar), " and you would know too that this same tri- 
umphant party demanded tlT,e ' immediate and unconditional 
repeal of all forms of compulsory taxation.' So I should like 
to see you confiscate my boat." " Oh ! you're a couple of 
tom-noodles, way behind the times," retorts the policeman ; 
" tlie demands of which you speak were numbered five and 
seven ; but the demand in regard to ferries was a ninth and 
later demand, which invalidated all previous demands that 
conflicted with it.'' Mr. Stuart, being a law-abiding citizen 
and not one of those " Boston Anarchists " who do not be- 
lieve in the State, sorrowfully steps from the boat inwardly 
cursing his political offspring, takes the government ferry-boat 
an hour later, and gets across the river just in time to lose 
the benefit of a lecture by a " Boston Anarchist " on " The 
Fate of the Individualist Who Threw a Sop to the Socialistic 


[Lil}eyty, August 6, 1892.] 

A PUBLIC-SCHOOL teacher of my acquaintance, much inter- 
ested in Anarchism and almost a convert thereto, finds him- 
self under the necessity of considering the question of com- 
pulsory education from a new standpoint, and is puzzled by it. 
In his quandary he submits to me the following questions : 

1. If a parent starves, tortures, or mutilates his child, thus actively- 
aggressing upon it to its injury, is it just for other members of the group 
to interfere to prevent such aggression ? 

2. If a parent neglects to provide food, shelter, and clothing for his 
child, thus neglectiifg the self-sacrifice implied by the second corollary of 
the law of equal freedom, is it just for other members of the group to 
interfere to compel him so to provide? 

3. If a parent wilfully aims to prevent his child from reaching mental 
or moral, without regard to physical, maturity, is it just for other mepir 
^er? pf the ^roup to interfere to prevent such aggression ? 


4. If a parent neglects to provide opportunity for the child to reach men- 
tal maturity, — assuming that mental maturity can be defined, — is it just 
for other members of the group to interfere to compel him so to provide ? 

5. 7/ it be granted that a knowledge of reading and writing— z.«,, of 
making and interpreting permanent signs of thought — is a necessary iMvva- 
tion of maturity, and if a parent neglects and refuses to provide or ac- 
cept opportunity for his child to learn to read and write, is it just for 
other members of the group to interfere to compel the parent so to pro- 
vide or accept? 

Before any of these questions can be answered with a straight 
yes or no, it must first be ascertained whether the hypothetical 
parent violates, by his hypothetical conduct, the equal freedom, 
not of his child, but of other members of society. Not of his 
child, I say ; why ? Because, the parent being an independ- 
ent, responsible individual, and the child being a dependent, 
irresponsible individual, it is obviously inequitable and virtu- 
ally impossible that equal freedom should characterize the re- 
lations between them. In this child, however, who is one day 
to pass from the condition of dependence and irresponsibility 
to the condition of independence and responsibility, the other 
members of society have an interest, and out of this considera- 
tion the question at once arises whether the parent who impairs 
the conditions of this child's development thereby violates 
the equal freedom of those mature individuals whom this de- 
velopment unquestionably affects. — 

Now it has been frequently pointed out in Liberty, in dis- 
cussing the nature of invasion, that there are certain acts vthich 
all see clearly as invasive and certain other acts which all see 
clearly as non-invasive, and that these two classes comprise 
vastly the larger part of human conduct, but that they are 
separated from each other, not by a hard and fast line, but by 
a strip of dark and doubtful territory, which shades off in 
either direction into the regions of light and clearness by an 
imperceptible gradation. In this strip of greater or less ob- 
scurity are included that minority of human actions which 
give rise to most of our political differences, and in the thick 
of" its Cimmerian centre we find the conduct of parent toward 

We cannot, t_hen, clearly identify the maltreatment of child 
by parent as either invasive or non-invasive of the" liberty of 
third parties. In such a difficulty we must have recourse to 
the policy presented by Anarchism for doubtful cases. As I 
cannot state this policy better than I have stated it already, I 
quote my own words from Liberty, No. 154 : 

" Then liberty always, say the Anarchists. No use of force, 
except against the invader ; and in those cases where it is diffi- 


cult to tell whether the alleged offender is an invader or not, still 
no use of force except where the necessity of immediate solu- 
tion is so imperative that we must use it to save ourselves. 
And in these few cases where we must use it, let us do so frankly 
and squarely, acknowledging it as a matter of necessity, with- 
out seeking to harmonize our action with any political ideal or 
constructing any far-fetched theory of a State or collectivity 
having prerogatives and rights superior to those of individuals 
and aggregations of individuals and exempted from the opera- 
tion of the ethical principles which individuals are expected 
to observe." 

In other words, those of us who believe that liberty is the 
great educator, the " mother of order," will, in case of doubt, 
give the benefit to liberty, or non-interference, unless it is 
plain that non-interference will result in certain and immedicete 
disaster, if not irretrievable, at any rate too grievous to be 

Applying this rule to the subject under discussion, it is evi- 
dent at once that mental and moral maltreatment of children, 
since its effects are more or less remote, should not be met 
with physical force, but that physical maltreatment, if suffi- 
ciently serious, may be so met. 

In specific answer to my questioner, I would say that, if he 
insists on the form of his questions, " Is it just ? " etc., I cannot 
answer them at all, because it is impossible for me to decide 
whefher interference is just unless I can first decide whether or 
no there has already been invasion. But if, instead of " Is it 
just ? " he should ask in each case, " Is it Anarchistic policy? " 
I would then make reply as follows : 

1. Yes. 

2. Yes, in sufficiently serious cases. 

3. No. 

4. No. 
5- No. 


\_Liberiy, September 3, 1892.] 

The wisdom of acts is measured by their consequences. 

The individual's measure of consequences is proportionate to the circle 
of his outlook. His horizons may lie so near that he can only measure 
at short range. But, whether they be near or far, he can only judge 


of consequences as approximately or remotely touching himself. His 
judgment may err ; his motive remains always the same, whether he be 
conscious of it or not. 

That motive is necessarily egoistic, since no one deliberately chooses 
misery when happiness is open to him. Acts always resulting either in- 
differently or in furtherance of happiness or increase of misery, one who 
has power to decide and intelligence to determine probable consequences 
will certainly give preference to the course which will ultimately advance 
his own happiness. 

The law of equal freedom, " Every one is free to do whatsoever he 
wills,*' appears to me to be the primary condition to happiness. If I fail 
to add the remainder of Herbert Spencer's celebrated law of equal free- 
dom, I shall only risk being misinterpreted by persons who cannot un- 
derstand that the opening affirmation includes what follows, since, if any 
one did infringe upon the freedom of another, all would not be equally 

Liberty without intelligence rushes towards its own extinction contin- 
ually, and continually rescues itself by the knowledge born of its pain. 

Intelligence without liberty is a mere potentiality, a nest-full of un- 
hatched eggs. 

Progress, therefore, presupposes the union of intelligence and liberty : 
Freedom to act, wisdom to guide the action. 

Equal freedom is the primary condition to happiness. 

Intelligence is the primary condition to equality in freedom. 

Liberty and intelligence acting and reacting upon each other produce 
growth. , 

Thus growth and happiness are seen to be, if not actually synonymous, 
almost inseparable companions. 

Where equal freedom is rendered impossible by disproportion in de- 
grees of development, the hope of the higher units lies in the education 
of the lower. 

Children, because of their ignorance, are elements of inharmony, hin- 
drances to equal freedom. To quicken the processes of their growth is 
to contribute towards the equalization of social forces. 

Then, liberty being essential to growth, they must be left as free as is 
compatible with their own safety and the freedom of others. 

Just here arises my difficulty, which I freely admit. For the enuncia- 
tion of this principle is the opening of a Pandora's box, from which all 
things fly out excepting adult judgment. 

Who shall decide upon the permissible degree of freedom ? Who shall 
adjust the child's freedom to its safety so that the two shall be delicately, 
flawlessly balanced ? 

The fecundity of these questions is without limit. Of them are born 
controversies that plague all the unregenerate alike, whether they be 
philosophers or the humblest truth-seekers. 

Christians escape this toilsome investigation. Their faith in rulership 
simplifies all the relations of life. Their conduct need not be consistent 
with equal freedom, since obedience, not liberty, is the basis of their 
ideal society. 

Reluctantly I admit that during infancy and to some extent in childhood 
others must decide what is for a child's welfare. 

The human babe is a pitiably helpless and lamentably ignorant ani- 
mal. It does not even know when it is hungry, but seeks the maternal 
breast as a cure-all for every variety of physical uneasiness ; therefore 
the mother or nurse must inevitably decide for it even the quantity of 


nourishment it may safely receive and the length of time that may inter- 
vene between tenders of supplies. That these judgments are far from 
infallible is well known. One mother of five living children confessed 
to me that she had lost one child, starved it in the process of learning 
that her lactation furnished a substance little more nutritious than water. 

Grown older, the babe does not know the danger of touching a red- 
hot stove. How should it know? It is without experience. The 
mother's impulse is to rescue the tender, white baby-hand. Is she wise 
in interposing this restraint? I think she is not. If the child is to have 
bayoneted sentries always on guard between it and experience, it can 
only grow surreptitiously. I say " bayoneted " advisedly, since the 
hand interposed between the baby and the stove not infrequently em- 
phasizes its power with a blow which gives more pain than the burn 
would have given, while its value as experience may be represented 
by the minus sign. 

The theory that it is the duty of parents to provide for the needs 
of their young children, and of children to obey their parents, and, 
in their age, to support them, is so generally accepted that I shall rouse 
a storm of indignation by asserting that there are no duties. 

While a cursory glance at the subject may seem to show a denial of 
equal freedom in the refusal of a parent to support his child, a more 
careful study will reveal the truth that, so long as he does not hinder the 
activities of any one nor compel any other person or persons to under- 
take the task which he has relinquished, he cannot be said to violate the 
law of equal freedom. Therefore his associates may not compel him to 
provide for his child, though they may forcibly prevent him from aggress- 
ing upon it. They may prevent acts ; they may not compel the perfor- 
mance of actions. 

It will, perhaps, be well to anticipate at this point a question sure to 
be asked during the discussion. 

Is it not aggression on the part of parents to usher into existence a 
child for which they are either unable or unwilling to provide? 

Much may be said in reply. 

First : In any association differences of opinion would arise as to 
whether it was aggression or not ; these differences would imply doubt, 
and the doubt would make'forcible prevention, even if practicable, un- 

Second : This doubt would be strengthened by consideration of the fact 
that no one could be able to predict with certainty nine months previous 
to the birth of a child that at the time of its birth its parents would be un- 
able to provide sustenance for it. 

Third : It would be further strengthened by the knowledge that death 
is always open to those who find life intolerable, and, so long as persons 
seek to prolong existence, they cannot properly complain of those who 
thrust it upon them. A young babe does not question whether the milk 
it feeds upon flows from its mother's breast or from the udder of a cow, 
and should it, with dawning intelligence, feel disturbed in mind or dis- 
tressed in body by reason of its relations towards its environments, it will, 
by then, have learned the art of dying. 

And now, having opened a gulf which swallows up duty, shall I be able 
to allay the consternation of those who have substituted the worship of 
this for their repudiated worship of another unsubstantial God ? 

It has seemed to me that, generally speaking, people's love for their 
children is in inverse proportion to their love of God and duty. However 
this may be, — and I will admit that, although parallel and pertinent, it is 


hot directly in the line of inquiry I am pursuing, — there is still left to us 
the-certainty that increasing intelligence will more and more incline indi- 
viduals to face the consequences of their own acts ; not for duty's sake, 
but in order to help establish and preserve that social harmony which will 
be necessary to their happiness. 

Even in the present semi-barbarous condition of parental relations it is 
exceptional, unusual, for parents to abandon their children, and the two 
distinct incentives to such abandonment will be removed by social evolu- 
tion, leaving the discussion of the obligation of parents to care for their . 
children purely abstract and rather unprofitable, since no one will refuse 
to do so. 

The two motives to which I refer are poverty and fear of social oblo- 
quy. Married parents sometimes desert their children because they lack 
abundant means of subsistence ; unmarried parents occasionally not only 
desert their offspring, but deny them, in order to escape the malice of the 
unintelligent who believe that vice is susceptible of transmutation into 
virtue by the blessing of a priest, and virtue into vice by the absence of 
the miracle-working words. 

Recognition of the law of equal freedom would nearly remove the first, 
render the second more endurable, and finally obliterate both, leaving 
parents without motive for the abandonment cf offspring. 

That parents usually find happiness in provision for the welfare of their 
young is well known. Even the habits of the lower animals afford evi- 
dence sufficient to establish this position, and, for convenience, postulating 
it as a principle, I shall proceed to examine how far parents defeat their 
own aim by unintelligent pursuit of it. 

Food is the first, because the indispensable, requisite to welfare, but un- 
intelligent and indiscriminate feeding results in thousands of deaths annu- 
ally and sows seeds of chronic invalidism in millions of young stomachs. 

Clothing also is considered indispensable, and is so in rigorous climates, 
but the primary object of covering the body, which is surely to make it 
comfortable, is usually almost wholly forgotten in the effort to conform to 
accepted ideals of beauty, — ideals often involving peculiar departures from 
natural forms. 

Shelter is a necessity which is often accompanied by such over-zealous 
inhospitality to fresh air as places choice between in-door and out-door 
life in uncertain balance. 

But the sturdiest pursuits and the dreariest defeats and failures are found 
in educational endeavors. 

The child comes into an unknown world. His blinking eyes cannot 
decide which is nearer, the lighted taper on the table or the moon seen 
through the window. He does not know that a Riverside orange is larger 
than the palm of his tiny hand until he has learned the truth by repeated 
efforts to grasp it. He has all things to learn: ideas of dimension, weight, 
heat, moisture, density, resistance, gravitation, — all things in their inter- 
relations and their relations to himself. And what bungling assistance he 
receives in the bewildering path through this tangle of truth ! 

He learns that God sends the rain, the hail, and the snow down from 
the sky ; that his little sister was brought from heaven by an angel and 
deposited in a doctor's pill-bags. The tie of relationship between her and 
himself remains a mystery. Anthropomorphism lurks everywhere. The 
unseen hand moves all things. He asks many questions which his teachers 
cannot answer, and, unwilling to confess their ignorance, they constantly 
reiterate : " God did it," as if that were an answer. 


Turning from unsuccessful inquiries concerning natural phenomena, 
perhaps the child perceives, in a dim way, his relations with the State, and, 
as God posed before him in the realm of philosophy and science, so do all 
replies to his questionings now end in omnipotent government. 

"Why does no one prevent the man with a star from clubbing the other 
man ? " 

" Because he is a policeman." 

" Who said that a policeman might strike people?" 

"The government." 

" What is the government ? " 

" The government is my son, you will learn when you are older." 

"Who pays the policeman for clubbing the other man?" 

" The government." 

"Where does the government get the money?" 

"You will learn when you are older." 

Usually at the age of six years, or even earlier, a child's education is 
practically abandoned by its inefficient parents and intrusted to the church 
and the State. 

The State uses money robbed from the parents to perpetuate its powers 
of robbery by instructing their children in its own interest. 

The church, also, uses its power to perpetuate its power. And to these 
twin leeches, as "Ouida" has aptly designated them, to these self-inter- 
ested robbers and murderers, are the tender minds of babies entrusted 
for education. 

Herbert Spencer has shown that the status of women and children im- 
proves in proportion to the decline of militarism and the advance of in- 

The military spirit is encouraged in multifold ways by both church and 
State, and little children and women, in their pitiable ignorance, assist in 
weaving nets that shall trip their own unwary feet and those of other 
women and children that follow them. 

A spirit of subordination is inculcated by both church and State, which 
contemplate without rebuke the brutalities of authority, excepting in 
some cases of extraordinary cruelty, and teach the helpless victims that 
it is their duty to submit. 

The most commonplace tenets of the sepowers would seem absurd 
and outrageous if expounded to an unprepared adult mind and stripped 
of all those devices of language by which the various promptings of 
shame, good nature, ignorance, or deceit impel us to soften the truth. 

Say to such an one : 

" Slurder by the State is laudable ; murder by an individual is criminal. 

" Robbery by the State is permissible ; robbery by an individual is a 
serious offence against the person robbed and also against public wel- 

"Assault of the parent upon his child is justifiable; assault of the 
child upon the parent is intolerable." 

He would not look upon you with the simple confidence of a puzzled 
child, attributing the apparent incompatibilities to the feebleness of his 
own understanding. 

But to the child these bewildering social sophistries, flowing into his 
mind from sources that appeal to his trust, and presented with ambigui- 
ties of language that serve to increase its difficulties, must appear hope- 
less labyrinths of mystery. 

Thus at every step from infancy to adult life the progress of the child 
is checked by the incapacity of those who desire to advance its welfare. 


Inherited tendencies and the training which they themselves received 
incline parents to become inexorable masters and to commend most the 
conduct of that child which is easiest enslaved. 

Parents beat their children, elder children beat younger brothers and 
sisters, and the wee ones avenge their wrongs vicariously by beating their 
dolls or their wooden horses. 

Through individual revolts against the general barbarity, revolts of 
increasing frequency and power, humanity gradually evolves above actual 
application of its savage principles. But these revolts against savagery, 
when led by emotion, often result nearly as disastrously as savagery- 

Reason must be the basis of all enduring social growth. 

When reason shall have learned to rebel against inequalities in liber- 
ties, and when this mental rebellion shall have become quite general, 
then will people have passed beyond danger of relapse into savagery. 

Then parent and child shall not be master and slave, a relation dis- 
tasteful to reasoning people, but they shall be friend and friend. There 
will be no restraints imposed except such as are absolutely necessary, 
and these will not take the form of blows and will be removed as early as 

Examples of such restraints as I mean are : 

Detention from the brink of a precipice or an open well or the track of 
a coming locomotive, or of one child from striking another. 

Parents who recognize the fundamental principle of happiness through 
freedom and intelligence will, generally speaking, achieve results pro- 
portionate to the degree of their success in harmonizing their lives with 
this principle. The greater their intelligence the higher perfection will 
they reach in the interpretation and application of the law of equal free- 
dom, and in preparing their children to attain harmonious relations with 
their environment. 


How to make liars of children : 

I have said that infants have all things to learn. It would seem, and 
would be, superfluous to repeat a fact so well known, were it not true 
that most people credit little children with so much more knowledge than 
they could possibly have acquired in the given time. I have heard, not 
once but many times, mothers accuse young children of falsehood when 
I fully believed that the apparent misstatements were due in part to the 
little ones' weak grasp on the language which they attempted to speak, 
and partly to misinterpretation of facts. Even grown-up people do not 
look upon the simplest incident from exactly the same point of view ; yet 
they expect from mere babes perfection of accuracy, and, being disap- 
pointed in this unreasonable expectation, accuse them of falsehood, and 
not infrequently worry them into admitting faults which have, in reality, 
no meaning to their dim understandings. But after lying has come to 
have meaning, the little mind becomes indifferent to truthfulness, finding 
that punishment falls the same, whether it inspire truth or falsehood. 

Thus the child is made a liar by its parents' ignorant endeavor to' teach 
it regard for the truth. 

But worse mistakes are made by those parents whose daily conversa- 
tion with their children furnishes examples of untruthfulness. Who has 
not been frightened into obedience by tales of a bogie-man, a Chinaman, 
a black man, or a Santa Claus with his rattan, — stories which do triple 
injury by fostering cowardice, class hatred, and lying? 


7*15 teach a child to steal : 

Carefully lock away from him all fruits and sweets. Allow him no 
money for personal expenses. If you miss anything, accuse him of 
having taken it. If you send him out to make purchases, count the 
change with suspicious care when he returns. If he has lost a few pen- 
nies, accuse him of having spent them for candy. If you never buy 
candy for him, this will teach him a means of supplying himself, and 
probably your next accusation will be true. 

Strike children and they learn to strike each other ; scold them and 
they learn to quarrel ; give them drums and flags and uniforms and toy 
guns and they desire to become professional murderers. Open their 
letters, listen to their conversations with their young friends, pry into 
their little secrets, invade their private rooms without knocking, and you 
make them meddlers and disagreeable companions. 

I have said that it is not the duty of children to obey their parents or 
to care for them in old age. 

The following facts bear on this position : 

The life of a child is usually merely incident to the pleasure of its 
parents, and is often an accident deeply deplored by both. Even when 
conception is desired, it is still for the pleasure of the parents. If it were 
possible, which it is not, to conceive of a life given solely for its own 
happiness, its parents taking no pleasure either in the sexual relation or 
in the hope of offspring, the child could incur no responsibility by the 
opinions or the acts of its parents. 

After its birth the child does not say : 

" Give me food clothes, and shelter now in exchange for food, clothes, 
and shelter which I will give you in your old age," and, could he make 
such a contract, it would be void. A man cannot be bound by proihises 
he made during his infancy. 

The question of obedience I pass, since highly-evolved parents cannot 
be obeyed, because they will not command. 

On careful thought ihe removal of the idea of duty will be seen to be 
less startling than it must at first appear to those who have accepted with- 
out question the dogmas of authority. Mr. Cowell has called my atten- 
tion to the fact that the love which most people have for their parents or 
foster-parents is evidence that few wholly lack lovable attributes. During 
the long years of familiar companionship between parents and child ties 
are usually formed which cannot be broken while life lasts, not ties of 
duty but of affection ; these render mutual helpfulness a source of pleas- 
ure. If they be lacking, a self-respecting parent would choose the shelter 
of .in almshouse rather than the grudging charity bestowed by his child 
under the spur of a behef in duty. 

1 Clara Dixon Davidson. 

■tHE INDlVlbtjAL, SOCIETY, AiSft) THE STATfi. 143 


[Li/terty, September 3, 1892.] 
To the Editor of Liberty : 

While reading your lucid editorial on the above topic, some thoughts 
occurred to me which I venture to offer in the hope that they may serve 
to supplement what you have said in dealing with your scholastic friend's 
well-put queries. 

I cannot help thinking that he had in mind a very un-Anarchistic con- 
dition of things when he formulated the questions. Why is compulsory 
education in vogue to-day? For whom is it intended? If society had 
been composed of well-to-do people having all the comforts, advantages, 
and opportunities of civilization that some only enjoy at present, would 
the idea of statutory compulsion in the bringing-up and education of chil- 
dren ever have been thought of, much less put into force ? Are such legal 
regulations applied, practically, to the classes superior in fortune to the 
majority, in whose interest (?) the regulations are supposed to be made? 

I find myself dropping into the interrogative style, like our friendly 
inquirer, and while in it would like to ask him, thoiigh not wishing to 
usurp the functions of a father confessor, if he had not in view, perhaps 
vaguely and even unconsciously, when thinking over the matter that he 
embodied in the five points, a typical wage slave, underpaid, uneducated, 
unrefined, the victim of compulsory restrictions and stultifying law-made 
conditions, a man or woman without intelligence, whose narrow mental 
scope and abnormal moral nature are the result of circumstances pro- 
duced by invasive tyranny, — in short, parents whose unfilial instincts 
and unsocial acts are the direct outcome of ages of legal oppression. To 
such persons only could the assumptions underlying the questions apply. 

If our friend apprehends clearly the drift of the queries above arid 
consequently answers them to our mutual satisfaction, he will then, I 
imagine, discard his third, fourth, and fifth questions as imnecessary and 
inapplicable to a truly Anarchist condition of society. It seems to me 
unwise to attempt to apply Anarchistic principles to one case of social 
relations, itself arising out of other relations, without at the same time 
tracing that case to its sources and there defining the bearings of the 
whole in relation to perfect liberty, — Anarchy. I would not turn aside 
to condemn some kinds of compulsory interference which are really at- 
tempts at ameliorating the conditions that more inimical invasion has 
brought about, but would rather strike straight at the previous and more 
vital violations of the law of equal freedom. Hence I agree with the 
editor when he answers No. No, No, to the last three problems, not only 
on the grounds he lays down, but also because I believe that the eco- 
nomic emancipation which would result from the adoption of Anarchy 
as a basic method in Society would speedily solve all such problems by 
relegating them to the Museum of Curiosities of the Ante-Revolution. 

On grounds of sentiment, of sympathy, feeling, and humanity, which 
would probably be stronger and more generous under equal liberty than 
now, I would not hesitate to act in the circumstances supposed in the 
first and second questions, though such action would certainly not be dic- 
tated by the mere theory of Anarchism, but would be no more a violation 
of it than would a refusal in such cases to interfere. 


The undoubted tendency of an adoption of Anarchy would be, how- 
ever, to minimize the possibility of unsocial conduct of the character 
under discussion, if not to abolish it altogether. Fraternally yours, 

William Bailie. 


{Liberty, September 3, 1892.] 

Nearly the whole of this issue of Liberty is devoted to the 
important question of the status of the child under Anarchy. 
The long article by Clara Dixon Davidson has been in my 
desk, unopened, for several months. On examining it the 
other day, I was surprised and delighted to find that a woman 
had written such a bold, unprejudiced, unsentimental, and 
altogether rational essay on a subject which women are espe- 
cially prone to treat emotionally. I am even shamed a little 
by the unhesitating way in which she eliminates from the 
problem the fancied right of the child to life. My own diffi- 
culties, I fear, have been largely due to a lingering trace of this 
superstition. The fact is that the child, like the adult, has no 
right to life at all. Under equal freedom, as it develops in- 
dividuality and independence, it is entitled to immunity from 
assault or invasion, and that is all. If the parent neglects to 
support it, he does not thereby oblige any one else to support 
it. If others give it support, they do so voluntarily, as they 
might give support to a neglected animal ; there is no more 
obligation in the one case than in the other. 

I also welcome as important Comrade Bailie's contribution 
to the discussion. In one view the question of the status of 
the child under Anarchy is a trivial one, — trivial because the 
bugbears that surround it are hypothetical monsters, and be- 
cause such ugly realities as do actually confront it are put to 
rout by the new social conditions which Anarchy induces. 
Even at present comparatively few parents are disposed to 
abuse or neglect their children, and in the absence of poverty 
and false notions of virtue their number will be infinitesimal 
and may be safely neglected. The question is one that van- 
ishes as we approach it. 

The chief value of its discussion is found in the light which 
it throws on the matter of equal freedom. Hence I am glad 
that it was brought forward by my friend the school-teacher, 
whose questions I answered in No. 232, and who now rejoins 
with the following letter : 


To the Editor of Liberty : 

I gather from your editorial that it is Anarchistic policy for neighbors 
to interfere if a parent is about to chisel off the third finger of its child's 
left hand, even if he proposes to secure a well-healed stump. I think I 
know you well enough to say that it is not Anarchistic policy for neigh- 
bors to interfere if the parent, otherwise sane, proposes to treat his own 
finger so. Now, where is the criterion of these two cases ? Why should 
the child's physical integrity be of more importance to neighbors than the 
father's ? Do we not recognize some substitute for or remnant of the law 
of equal freedom, restraining the parent's absolute control over the mind, 
body, and life of his child ? " Not for the child's sake," primarily, be- 
cause all sane altruism is rooted in egoism : but it is Anarchistic policy to 
recognize and defend the child's right to physical integrity, in extreme 

Again.uhe reason why we draw the line of Anarchistic policy at inter- 
ference with any but physical maltreatment is, if I am correct, that non- 
interference will result in disaster, too grievous to be borne, which will be 
an invasion of the equal freedom of adult neighbors, — all this only in the 
case of physical maltreatment. On this ground is laid down the general 
rule that mental and moral maltreatment of children by parents should not 
be met by neighbors with physical force. It seems obvious to me that 
this rule cannot be -thus justified in considering the case of physical mal- 
treatment instanced above, and the following case of mental-and-moral 
maltreatment : A parent, with the intention of ruining his child's future, 
surrounds it with temptations to debauchery such as will assuredly render 
it imbecile, if it survives to the normal age of maturity. — This seems to 
me more harmful to adult neighbors than even such mutilation as an eye 
put out. 

To put my thesis most directly, I claim (I) to state the law of eq»al 
freedom as follows : 

Every individual has a right to and must expect the results of his own 

Cor. I . Every individual must refrain from invading his neighbor's rights. 

Cor. 2. Every child has a right to such sacrifice on the part of its parent 
as will enable it to arrive at maturity. 

And I claim (II) that it is Anarchistic policy to use physical force to 
prevent transgressions of either corollary of this law, where such trans- 
gressions are clear and unmistakable. The Egoistic basis of enforcing 
Cor. 2 is, as your editorial implies, the fact that its violation will result in 
shouldering off upon others some unwelcome consequence of the parents' 
(propagative) conduct. 

It is not always possible to apply the theoretical deductions of science; 
but that need not deter her devotees from trying to state and prove, as 
completely as possible, the results of science. Here we are, confronted 
by the " Cimmerian darkness" of one of the most important problems in 
social ethics. If the statement of Cor. 2 above is not accurate, I ask you, 
as my first instructor in this subject, to tell me where it is inaccurate, and 
why : if it is accurate, it furnishes a basis for the relation between Family 
and Society as firm and clear as the Law of Equal Freedom does for Soci- 
ety alone. And we can set ourselves calmly to write down the particular 
equations that represent the several phases of child-guardianship. 

G. w. K. 

My friend misapprehends me. When the interference of 
third parties is justifiable, it is not so because of the superior 


importance of the child's physical integrity as compared with 
that of the parent who mutilates himself, but because the child 
is potentially an individual sovereign. The man who muti- 
lates himself does not impair equal freedom in the slightest, 
but the parent who mutilates his child assaults a being which, 
though still limited in its freedom by its dependence, is daily 
growing into an independence which will establish its freedom 
on an equality with that of others. In this doubtful stage the 
advisability of interference is to be decided by necessity, since, 
so far as we can see at present, it cannot be decided Ijy prin- 
ciple. It is necessary to stop the parent from cutting off his 
child's finger, because the danger is immediate and the evil 
certain and irremediable. It is not necessary to prescribe the 
conditions of virtue with which a parent shall surround his 
child, because the danger is remote (it being possible perhaps 
in time to induce the parent to change his course), the evil is 
uncertain (the child often proving sufficiently strong in char- 
acter to rise above its conditions), and the results are not 
necessarily permanent (as later conditions may largely, if not 
entirely, counteract them). In the former case, physical force 
must be met with physical force. In the latter case, it is safer 
and better to meet moral (or' immoral) force with moral force. 
I am afraid that my friend is not yet a sufficiently good An- 
archist to appreciate the full significance of Proudhon's decla- 
ration that Liberty is the Mother of Order, and the importance 
of securing education through liberty wherever practicable 
instead of through compulsion. 

I do not think that my friend's formulas are capable of sci- 
entific treatment. When he tells me that " every individual 
has a right to and must expect the results of his own nature," 
he lays down a proposition too vague for the purposes of sci- 
ence. I do not know what the words mean, and in any case I 
deny the alleged right. An individual has a right to the results 
of his own nature if he can get them; otherwise, not. Apart 
from this right of might, no individual has a right to anything, 
except as he creates his right by contract with his neighbor. 


\Libcrty, April 28, 1S88.] 

Have I made a mistake in my Anarchism, or has the editor of Liberty 
himself tripped ? At any rate, I must challenge the Anarchism of one 


sentence in his otherwise masterful paper upon "State Socialism and 
Anarchism." If I am wrong, I stand open to conviction. It is this: 
" They [Anarchists] look forward to a time . . . when the children born 
of these relations shall belong exclusively to the mothers until old enough 
to belong to themselves." 

Now, that looks to me like an authoritarian statement that is in oppo- 
sition to theoretical Anarchy, and also to nature. What is the matter 
with leaving the question of the control of those children to their two 
parents, to be settled between them, — allowing them to decide whether 
both, or only one, and which one, shall have control? 

I may be wrong, but it seems to me extremely un-Anarchistic to thus 
bring up an extraneous, authoritarian, moral obligation, and use it to 
stifle an instinct which nature is doing her best to develop. 

I would like to know whether the editor of Liberty momentarily forgot 
his creed that we must follow our natural desires, or if I have misunder- 
stood his statement, or misapplied my own Anarchy. 

Paternal love of offspring is, with a few exceptions, a comparatively 
late development in the evolution of the animal world, so late that there 
are tribes of the order of man, and individuals even among civilized na- 
tions, in whom it is not found. But the fact that it is a late development 
shows that it is going to develop still more. And under the eased eco- 
nomical conditions which Anarchy hopes to bring about, it would burst 
forth with still greater power. Is it wise to attempt to stifle that feeling 
— as it would Ije stifled — by the sweeping statement that its object should 
belong to some one else ? Maternal love of offspring beautifies the 
woman's character, broadens and enriches her intellect. And as far as I 
have observed, paternal feeling, if it is listened to, indulged, and devel- 
oped, has an equally good, though not just the same, effect upon the 
man's mind. Should he be deprived of all this good by having swept out 
of his hands all care for his children, and out of his heart all feeling that 
they are his, by being made to feel that they "belong exclusively to the 
mother"? It seems to me much more reasonable, much more natural, 
and very much more Anarchistic, to say that the child of Anarchistic 
parents belongs to both of them, if they both wish to have united con- 
trol of it, and, if they don't wish this, that they can settle between them- 
selves as to which one should have it. The question is one, I think, that 
could usually be settled amicably. But if some unusual occasion were to 
arise when all efforts to settle it amicably were to fail, when both parents 
would strongly desire the child and be equally competent to rear it, then, 
possibly, the fact that the mother has suffered the pain of child-birth 
might give her a little the stronger right. But I do not feel perfectly 
sure that that principle is right and just. 

I would like to know if Mr. Tucker, upon further consideration, does 
not agree with me. 

F. F. K. 

I accept F. F. K.'s challenge, and, in defence of the An- 
archism of the sentence objected to, I offer to submit the 
language in vjrhich it is phrased to any generally recognized 
authority in English, for the discovery of any authoritarian 
meaning possibly therein contained. F. F. K. seems to mis- 
understand the use of the word "shall." Now, it may be 
ascertained from any decent dictionary or grammar that this 


auxiliary is employed, not alone in the language of command, 
but also in the language of prophecy. Suppose I had said that 
the Anarchists look forward to a time when all men shall be 
honest. Would F. F. K. have suspected me of desiring or 
predicting a decree to that effect? I hardly think so. The 
conclusion would simply have been that I regarded honesty as 
destined to be accepted by mankind, at some future period, in 
the shaping of their lives. Why, then, should it be inferred 
from similar phraseology in regard to the control of children 
that I anticipate anything more than a general recognition, in 
the absence of contract, of the mother's superior claim, and a 
refusal on the part of defensive associations to protect any 
other claim than hers in cases of dispute not guarded against 
by specific contract ? That is all that I meant, and that is all 
that my language implies. The language of prophecy doubt- 
less had its source in authority, but to-day the idea of author- 
ity is so far disconnected from the prophetic form that philos- 
ophers and scientists who, reasoning from accepted data, use 
this form in mapping out for a space the cours? of evolution 
are not therefore accused of designs to impose their sovereign 
wills upon the human race. The editor oi Liberty respectfully 
submits that he, too, may sometimes resort to the oracular 
style which the best English writers not unfrequently employ in 
speaking of futurity, without having it imputed to him on that 
account that he professes to speak either from a throne or 
from a tripod. 

As to the charge of departure from the Anarchistic prin- 
ciple, it may be preferred, I think, against F. F. K. with much 
more reason than against me. To vest the control of any- 
thing indivisible in more than one person seems to me decid- 
edly communistic. I perfectly agree that parents must be 
allowed to " decide whether both, or only one, and which one, 
shall have control." But if they are foolish enough- to decide 
that both shall control, the affair is sure to end in government. 
Contract as they may in advance that both shall control, really 
no question of control arises until they disagree, and then it is 
a logical impossibility for both to control. One of the two will 
then control ; or else there will be a compromise, in which case 
each will be controlled, just as the king who makes conces- 
sions governs and is governed, and as the members of a de- 
mocracy govern and are governed. ■ Liberty and individualism 
are lost sight of entirely. 

I rejoice to know that the tendency of evolution is towards 
the increase of paternal love, it being no part of my intention 
to abolish, stifle, or ignore that highly commendable emotion. 


I expect its influence in the future upon both child and parent 
to be far greater and better than it ever has been in the past. 
Upon the love of both father and mother for their offspring I 
chiefly rely for that harmonious co-operation in the guidance 
of their children's lives which is so much to be desired. But 
the important question, so far as Anarchy is concerned, is to 
whom this guidance properly belongs when such co-operation 
has proved impossible. If that question is not settled in ad- 
vance by contract, it will have to be settled by arbitration, and 
the board of arbitration will be expected to decide in accord- 
ance with some principle. In my judgment it will be recog- 
nized that the control of children is a species of property, and 
that the superior labor t'tie of the mother will secure her right 
to the guardianship of her children unless she freely signs it 
away. With my present light, if I were on such a: board of 
arbitration, my vote would be for the mother every time. 

For this declaration many of the friends of woman's eman- 
cipation (F. F. K., hqwever, not am'ong them) are ready to 
abuse me roundly. I had expected their approval rather. For 
years in their conventions I have seen this " crowning out- 
rage," that woman is denied the control and keeping of her 
children, reserved by them to be brought forward as a coup de 
grace for the annihilation of some especially obstinate oppo- 
nent. Now this control and keeping I grant her unreservedly, 
and, lo! I am a cursed thing ! 


{Liberty, March 10, 1888.] 

With a plentiful sprinkling of full-face Gothic exclamation 
points and a series of hysterical shrieks, the J^ournal of Unitei, 
Labor, organ of pious Powderly and pure Litchman, rushes 
upon Liberty with the inquiry whether "Anarchy asks liberty 
to ruin little girls." Liberty is thus questioned simply because 
it characterized those who petitioned the Massachusetts leg- 
islature for a further raise of the '' age of consent " to sixteen 
as " a bevy of impertinent and prudish women." The answer 
shall be direct and explicit. Anarchy does not ask liberty to 
ruin little girls, but it does ask liberty of sexual association 
with girls already several years past the age of womanhood, 
equipped by nature with the capacity of maternity, and even 
acknowledged by the law to be competent to marry and begin 


the rearing of a family. To hold a man whose association 
with such a girl has been sanctioned by her free consent and 
even her ardent desire guilty of the crime of rape and to sub- 
ject him to life imprisonment is an outrage to which a whole 
font of exclamation points would do scant justice. If there 
are any mothers, as the y^ournal of United Labor pretends, who 
look upon such an outrage as a protection against outrage, 
they confess thereby not only their callous disregard of human 
rights, but the imbecility of their daughters and their own re- 
sponsibility for the training that has allowed them to grow up 
in imbecility. " Has Liberty a daughter ? " further inquires the 
y^ournal of United Labor. Why, certainly; Order is Liberty's 
daughter, acknowledged as such from the first. " Liberty not 
the daughter, but the mother, of Order." But it is needless to 
raise the." age of consent" on account of Liberty's daughter. 
Order fears no seducer. When all daughters have such moth- 
ers and all mothers such daughters, the 'yoiirnal of United 
Labor may continue to jegard them as the " worst of woman- 
kind," but the powers of the seducer will be gone, no matter 
what may be fixed as the " age of consent." Because Liberty 
holds this opinion and expresses it, Powderly and Litchman 
profess to consider her a " disgrace to the press of America." 
Really they do not so look upon her, but they are very anxious 
to win .popular approval by pandering to popular prejudices, 
and so they took advantage of the opportunity which Liberty's 
words gave them to pose as champions of outraged virtue 
while endeavoring to identify Anarchism with wholesale rape 
of the innocents. 


{Liberty, November 5, 1887.] 

A QUESTION has arisen in England whether the public have 
a right of access to the top of Latrigg in Keswick Vale, the 
public claiming such right and certain landowners denying 
it. It is probable that the claim of the public is good, but, as 
I am not informed regarding the basis of the landholders' 
title in this particular case, it is not my purpose to discuss the 
matter. The London Jus, however, has discussed the matter, 
and I refer to it only to expose an inconsistency into which 
that journal has fallen. It seems that Mr. Plimsoll, who 
champions the claim of the public, has made this declaration : 


" What Parliament has given Parliament can take away." 
Not rightly, declares Jus j and it imagines a case. 

Suppose Parliament grants a life-pension to a distinguished general ; 
suppose the next Parliament, being of another color, rejects the grant, will 
Mr. Plimsoll pretend that in such a case Parliament would have the right 
to take it away? Not he ; no honest man could think so for a moment. 
Private persons do not consider themselves entitled to take back that 
which they have given to others, even without any consideration whatever. 

True, so far as private persons are concerned. But private 
persons do consider themselves entitled to take back that 
which has been taken from them and given to others. If the 
body politic, or State, which compels A to belong to it and 
aid in supporting it, pledges a certain sum annually to B, and, 
to meet this pledge, forcibly collects annually from A a pro- 
portional part of the sum, then A, when he becomes strong 
enough, may not only decline to make any further annual 
payments to B, but may take from B all that he has been 
compelled to pay to him in the past. To-day, to be sure, A, 
as soon as he acquires power, generally vitiates his claim 
upon B by proceeding to pledge others in the same manner 
in which others, when they were in power, had pledged him. 
But this fact, being accidental rather than essential, has no 
logical bearing upon the question of A's right to recover from 
B. It follows, then, that private, persons cannot be held to 
the pledges of an association which forces them into its mem- 
bership, and that Parliament, which represents the will of a 
majority of the members of such an association, and of a 
majority which necessarily varies continually in its make-up, 
stands on a very different footing from that of private persons 
fn the matter of observing or violating contracts. 

But suppose the position of Jus that they stand on the 
same footing to be granted. What has Jus to say then ? 
This, — namely, that it finds itself in sympathy with Mr. Plim- 
soll and the people of Keswick in their desire to enjoy the 
beautiful scenery of Latrigg ; that it believes the right of 
way to such enjoyment was originally theirs ; and that the 
sooner they recover it, the better. But how ? It has already 
denied that " what Parliament has given Parliament can take 
away " ; so it finds itself obliged to pick its way around this 
difficulty by the following devious path : 

If Parliament has given away to private persons that which ought to 
have been retained in public hands for the public use and benefit, with or 
without sufficient (or any) consideration, then lei the Natipn keef faith 
Q,nd buy it back. . 


The italics are mine. Bearing them in mind, let us return 
to the analogy between Parliament and private persons. Do 
private persons, then, consider themselves entitled to buy back 
that which they have given to others, on terms fixed by them- 
selves, and whether the others desire to sell or net ? That the 
private person who gives a thing to another and afterwards 
compels the latter to sell it back to him is less a thief than he 
would have been if he had taken it back without compensa- 
tion is a principle unrecognized, so far as I know, either in 
law or in political economy. No more can be said of such a 
robber than that he shows some considetation for his victim. 
Then, if Parliament and private persons stand on the same 
footing, whence does Jus derive the right of Parliament to 
forcibly buy back what it has given away ? 

Jus is a fine paper. It maintains certain phases of Individ- 
ualism with splendid force and vigor. But it continually puts 
itself into awkward situations simply by failing to be thorough 
in its Individualism. Here, for instance, it denies the right of 
the State to take from the individual without compensation 
what it has given him, but affirms the right of the State to 
compel the individual to sell to it what it has given him. In 
a word, Jus is not Anarchistic. It does not favor individual 
liberty in all things. It would confine interference with it 
within much narrower limits than those generally set by 
governmentalists, but, after all, like all other governmentalists, 
it fixes the limits in accordance with arbitrary standards pre- 
scribing that interference must be carried on only by methods 
and for purposes which it approves on grounds foreign to the 
belief in liberty as the necessary condition of social harmony. 


^Liberty ^ December 3, 1887.] 

London Jus does not see clearly in the matter of boycott- 
ing. " Every man," it says, " has a perfect right to refuse to 
hold intercourse with any other man or class from whom he 
chooses to keep aloof. But where does liberty come in when 
several persons conspire together to put pressure upon another 
to induce or coerce him (by threats expressed or implied) to re- 
frain also from intercourse with the boycotted man? It is not 
that the boycotted man has grounds of legal complaint against 
those who voluntarily put him in Coventry. His complaint is 


against those who compel (under whatsoever sanction) third 
persons to do likewise. Surely the distinction is specific." 
Specific, yes, but not rational. The line of real distinction 
does not run in the direction which Jus tries to give it. Its 
course does not lie between the second person and a third 
person, but between the threats of invasion and the threats of 
ostracism by which either the second or a third person is co- 
erced or induced. All boycotting, no matter of what person, 
consists either in the utterance of a threat or in its execution. 
A man has a right to threaten what he has a right to execute. 
The boundary-line of justifiable boycotting is fixed by the 
nature of the threat used. B and C, laborers, are entitled to 
quit buying shoes of A, a manufacturer, for any reason what- 
ever or for no reason at all. Therefore they are entitled to 
say to A : " If you do not discharge the non-union men in 
your employ, we will quit buying shoes of you." Similarly 
they are entitled to quit buying clothes of D, a tailor. There- 
fore they are entitled to say to D : " If you do not co-operate 
with us in endeavoring to induce A to discharge his non-union 
employees, — that is, if you do not quit buying shoes of him, — 
we will quit buying clothes of you." But B and C are not 
entitled to burn A's shop or D's shop. Hence they are not 
entitled to say to A that they will burn his shop unless he dis- 
charges his non-union employees, or to D that they will burn 
his shop unless he withdraws his patronage from A. Is it not 
clear that the rightful attitude of B and C depends wholly 
upon the question whether or not the attitude is invasive in 
itself, and not at all upon the question whether the object of it 
is A or D? 


'{Liberty, February.ii, 1888.] 

One word as to boycotting itself. Jus war> some weeks ago taken to 
task by the Boston Liberty for incorrectly defining the term. " The line 
of distinction," says Liberty, "does not run in the direction which y»j 
tries to give it. Its course does not lie. between the second person and a 
third person, but between the threats of invasion and the threats of ostra- 
cism by which either the second or a third person is coerced or induced. 
All boycotting, no matter of what person, consists either in the utterance 
of a threat or in its execution. A man has a right to threaten what he has 
a right to execute. The boundary-line of justifiable boycotting is fixed by 
the nature of the threat used." This seems reasonable enough, and. 
until we s?e the contrary proved, we shall accept this view in preference 


to that which we have put forward hitherto. At the same time, we are 
not so absolutely convinced of its soundness as to close our eyes to the 
fact that there may be a good deal said on the other side. The doctrine 
of conspiracy enters in. That which may not be illegal or even wrong in 
one person becomes both illegal and morally wrong in a crowd of persons. 
— -Jus. 

Liberty would be unfair to Jus if it should not present 
the evidence of that journal's fairness by printing its hand- 
some acknowledgment of error regarding boycotting. Jus still 
thinks, however, that something may be said on the other side, 
and declares that there are some things that one person may 
rightfully do which become illegal and immoral when done by 
a crowd. I should like to have Jus give an instance. There 
are some invasive acts or threats which cannot be executed by 
individuals, but require crowds — or conspiracies, if you will — 
for their accomplishment. But the guilt still arises from the 
invasive character of the act, and not from the fact of con- 
spiracy. No individual has a right to do any act which is 
invasive, but any number of individuals may rightfully " con- 
spire" to commit any act which is non-invasive. Jus ac- 
knowledges the force of Liberty's argument that A may as 
properly boycott C as B. Further consideration, I think, will 
compel it to acknowledge that A and B combined may as 
properly boycott C as may A alone or B alone. 


\_Liberty^ August 13, 1887.] 

The authority of learning, the tyranny of science, which 
Bakounine foresaw, deprecated, and denounced, never found 
blunter expression than in an article by T. B. Wakeman in 
the August number of the Freethinkers' Magazine in which 
the writer endeavors to prove, on scientific grounds alone, 
that alcohol is an unmitigated evil, a poison that ought never 
to be taken into the human system. My knowledge of chem- 
istry and physiology is too limited to enable me to judge of 
the scientific soundness of the attempted demonstration ; but 
I do know that it is admirably well written, wonderfully at- 
tractive, powerfully plausible, important if true, and there- 
fore worthy of answer by those who alone are competent to 
answer it if it can be answered. Such an answer I hope to 
see ; and, if it arrives, I shall weigh it against Mr, Wakeman's 


argument, award a verdict for myself, and act upon it for my- 
self, — if I am allowed to do so. 

But it is plain that, if Mr. Wakeman's party gets into power, 
no such privilege will be granted me. For, after having as- 
serted most positively that this " verdict of science " can be 
made so manifest that it will become a "personal prohibition 
law, which no person in his senses would violate any more than 
he would cut his own throat," in which case its compulsory en- 
forcement will be entirely unnecessary except upon persons out 
of their senses, Mr. Wakeman goes on to say that it is the duty 
of the lawyers (of whom he is one) to see to it that the manu- 
facture, sale, and use of alcohol as a beverage shall be out- 
lawed, proscribed, and prohibited just as arsenic is, and that, 
like arsenic, it shall be sold only as a labelled poison. Rather 
a summary way, it seems to me, of cramming science down the 
throats of people who like a glass of claret better I "Ah ! " 
some reader will say, " you forget that this compulsory absti- 
nence is only to be enforced upon people out of their senses, 
probably hopeless sots who are a public danger." 

This consideration possibly would afford a grain of consola- 
tion, had not Mr. Wakeman taken pains in another paragraph 
to leave no one in doubt as to the meaning of the phrase " in 
his senses." It is not applicable, he declares, to any drinker 
of alcohol who claims to " know when he has enough," for 
" that very remark shows that alcohol has already stolen away 
his brains." His position, then, is that the law of total absti- 
nence will enforce itself upon all men in their senses, for no 
man in his senses will drink alcohol after hearing the verdict 
of science ; but that men who drink alcohol, however moder- 
ately, are out of their senses, and must be " treated, by force 
if necessary, as diseased lunatics." 

Was any priest, any pope, any czar ever guilty of teaching 
a more fanatical, more bigoted, more tyrannical doctrine ? 

Does Mr. Wakeman imagine that he can restore men to 
their senses by any such disregard of their individualities ? 

Does he think that the way to strengthen the individual's 
reason and will is to force them into disuse by substituting for 
them the reason and will of a body of savants ? 

In that case I commend him to the words of Bakounine : 
" A society which should obey legislation emanating from a sci- 
entific academy, not because it understood itself the rational 
character of this legislation (in which case the existence of 
the academy would become useless), but because this legisla- 
tion, emanating from the academy, was imposed in the name 
of a science which it venerated without comprehending, — such 


a society would be a society, not of men, but of brutes. It 
would be a second edition of those missions in Paraguay which 
submitted so long to the government of the Jesuits. It would 
surely and rapidly descend to the lowest stage of idiocy." 

The mightiest foe of the human mind is not alcohol, by 
any means. It is that spirit of arrogance which prompts the 
conclusion of Mr. Wakeman's essay, and which, encouraged, 
would induce a mental paralysis far more universal and far 
more hopeless than any that science will ever be able to trace 
,to the spirit of alcohol. 


{^Liberiy, August 30, 1890.] 

Since the execution of Kemmler, I have seen it stated re- 
peatedly in the press, and especially in the reform press, and 
even in the Anarchistic press, that that execution was a mur- 
der. I have also seen it stated that capital punishment is 
murder in its worst form. I should like to know upon what 
principle of human society these assertions are based and 

If they are based on the principle that punishment inflicted 
by a compulsory institution which manufactures the criminals 
is worse than the crime punished, I can understand them ahd 
in some degree sympathize with them. But in that case I 
cannot see why fa//^a/ punishment should be singled out for 
emphatic and exceptional denunciation. The same objection 
applies as clearly to punishment that simply takes away liberty 
as to punishment that takes away life. 

The use of the word capital makes me suspect that this de- 
nunciation rests on some other ground than tnat which I have 
just suggested. But what is this ground ? 

If society has a right to protect itself against such men as 
Kemmler, as is admitted, why may it not do so in whatever 
way proves most effective ? If it is urged that capital punish- 
ment is not the most effective way, such an argument, well 
sustained by facts, is pertinent and valid. This position also 
I can understand, and with it, if not laid down as too absolute 
a rule, I sympathize. But this is not to say that the society 
which inflicts capital punishment commits murder. Murder 
is an offensive act. The term cannot be applied legitimately 
to any defensive act. And capital punishment, however in- 


effective it may be and through whatever ignorance it may be 
resorted to, is a strictly defensive act, — at least in theory. Of 
course compulsory institutions often make it a weapon of 
offence, but that does not affect the question of capital punish- 
ment /^r se as distinguished from other forms of punishment. 
For one, I object to this distinction unless it is based on ra- 
tional grounds. In doing so, I am not moved by any desire 
to defend the horrors of the gallows, the guillotine, or the 
electric chair. They are as repulsive to me as to any one. 
And the conduct of the physicians, the ministers, the news- 
papers, and the officials disgusts me. These horrors all tell 
most powerfully against the expediency and efficiency of .cap- 
ital punishment. But nevertheless they do not make it murder. 
I insist that there is nothing sacred in the life of an invader, 
and there is no valid principle of human society that forbids 
the invaded to protect themselves in whatever way they can. 


\_Lideriy, November 12, 1892,] 

A Promise, according to the common acceptation of the term, is a 
binding declaration made by one person to another to do, or not to do, a 
certain act at some future time. According to this definition, there can, 
I think, be no place for a promise in a harmonious, progressive world. 
Promises and progress are incompatible, unless all the parties are, at all 
times, as free to break them as they were to make them ; and this admis- 
sion eliminates the binding element, and, therefore, destroys the popular 
meaning of a promise. 

In a progressive world we know more to-morrow fhan we know to-day. 
Also harmdny implies absence of external coercion ; for, all coercion 
being social discord, a promise that appears just and feels agreeable 
when measured with to-day's knowledge may appear unjust and become 
disagreeable when measured with the standard of to-morrow's knowl- 
edge ; and in so far as the fulfilment of a promise becomes disagreeable 
or impossible, it is an element of discord, and discord is the opposite of 
harmony. H. Olerich, Jr. 

HoLSTEiN, Iowa. 

But it is equally true, my good friend, that the non-fulfil- 
ment of a promise is disagreeable to the promisee, and in so 
far it is an element of discord, and discord is the opposite of 
harmony. You need noi: look for harmony until people are 
disposed to be harmonious. But justice, or a close approxi- 
mation thereto, can be secured even from ill-disposed peo- 
ple. I have no doubt of the right of any man to whom, for a 


consideration, a promise has been made, to insist, even by 
force, upon the fulfilment of that promise, provided the pro- 
mise be not one whose fulfilment would invade third parties. 
And if the promisee has a right to use force himself for such 
a purpose, he has a right to secure such co-operative force 
from others as they are willing to extend. These others, in 
turn, have a right to decide what sort of promises, if any, they 
will help him to enforce. When it comes to the determi- 
nation of this point, the question is one of policy solely; and 
very likely it will be found that the best way to secure the 
fulfilment of promises is to have it understood in advance 
that the fulfilment is not to be enforced. But as a matter of 
justice and liberty, it must always be remembered that a 
promise is a two-sided affair. And in our anxiety to leave the 
promisor his liberty, we must not forget the superior right of 
the promisee. I say superior, because the man who fulfils a 
promise, however unjust the contract, acts voluntarily, where- 
as the man who has received a promise is defrauded by its non- 
fulfilment, invaded, deprived of a portion of his liberty against 
his will. 


Bullion thinks that " civilization consists in teaching men 
to govern themselves and then letting them do it." A very 
slight change suffices to make this stupid statement an en- 
tirely accurate one, after which it would read : " Civilization 
consists in teaching men to govern themselves by letting them 
do it." — Liberty, August 20, 1881. 

People in general, and the governmental Socialists in par- 
ticular, think they see a new argument in favor of their 
beloved State in the assistance which it is rendering to the 
suffering and starving victims of the Mississippi inundation. 
Well, such work is better than forging new chains to keep the 
people in subjection, we allow ; but it is not worth the price 
that is paid for it. The people cannot afford to be enslaved 
for the sake of being insured. If there were no other alterna- 
tive, they would do better, on the whole, to take Nature's risks 
and pay her penalties as best they might. But Liberty supplies 
another alternative, find furnishes better insurance at cheaper 
rates. The philosophy of voluntary mutualism is universal in 
its application, not omitting the victims of natural disaster. 


Mutual banking, by the organization of credit, will secure the 
greatest possible production of wealth and its most equitable 
distribution ; and mutual insurance, by the organization of 
risk, will do the utmost that can be done to mitigate and 
equalize the suffering arising from its accidental destruction. 
— Liberty, April i, 1882. 

Democracy has been defined as the principle that " one man 
is as good as another, if not a little better." Anarchy may be 
defined as the principle that one government is as bad as 
' another, if not a little worse. — Liberty, May 12, 1883. 

In a lecture in Milwaukee a short time ago Clara Neyman 
of New York said that "if women could have the right to 
vote, they would devise better means of reform than those lof 
narrow prohibition." Yes, indeed ; there would be nothing 
narrow about their prohibition ; it would be of the broadest 
kind, including everything from murder to non-attendance at 
church. — Liberty, May 12, 1883. 

Eighteen men and women who had been punished once for 
all the crimes they had ever been convicted of committing, 
and against whom there was no shred of evidence of having 
committed any new crime, or of harboring any intention of 
committing any new crime, were taken into custody by the 
New York police on Thursday, August 6, on no pretext what- 
ever save that these persons had the reputation of being pro- 
fessional pick-pockets, and that it was the part of prudence 
to keep such characters in jail until after the Grant obsequies, 
when they might be arraigned in court and discharged for 
want of evidence against them. That is to say, eighteen 
persons, presumably innocent in the eye of the law, had to be 
deprived of their liberty and kept in dungeons for four days, 
in order that some hundreds of thousands of people, half of 
them numskulls and the other half hypocrites, might not be 
obliged to keep their hands on their pocket-books while they 
shed crocodile tears at the grave of one of the foremost 
abettors of theft and plunder which this century has produced. 
■ And the upholders of governments continue to prate of the 
insecurity that would prevail without them, and to boast of 
the maxim, while thus violating it, that " it is better that 
ninety-nine guilty men should escape than that one innocent 
man should suffer." — Liberty, August 15, 1885. 

" Whenever it is proposed," writes W. J. Potter in the 
Index, "that the voluntary system for religion shall be 


adopted and trusted wholly, there are many timid folk who 
start up with the warning that religion would be imperilled. 
Such people do not appear to have much confidence in the 
power of religion to maintain itself in the world." By similar 
reasoning, how much confidence does Mr. Potter, who would 
prohibit people from reading literature that does not satisfy 
his standard of purity, who would prohibit people from drink- 
ing liquors that do not satisfy his standard of sobriety, who 
would compel people to be charitable by making them pay 
taxes for the support of alms-houses and hospitals, and who 
would compel people to be learned, and still other people to * 
pay the expense of their learning, — how much confidence, I 
say, does Mr. Potter appear to have in the power of purity, 
temperance, benevolence, and education to maintain them- 
selves in the world ? Mr. Potter should learn of Auberon 
Herbert that " every measure to which a man objects is a 
Church-rate if you have the courage and the logic to see 
it." — Liberty, September 12, 1885. 

" No man who puts any conscience into his voting, or who 
acts from proper self-respect," says the Boston Herald, " will 
consider himself bound to support a dishonest or unfit can- 
didate merely because he was ' fairly nominated ' by the ma- 
jority of his party." But the Herald believes that every man 
who puts any conscience into his conduct, or who acts from 
proper self-respect, should consider himself bound to support 
and obey a dishonest or unfit official merely because he was 
fairly elected by the majority of his countrymen. Where is 
the obligation in the latter case more than in the former ? 
" Our country, right or wrong," is as immoral a sentiment as 
" our party, right or wrong." The Herald and its mugwump 
friends should beware of their admissions. They will find 
that the " divine right to bolt " leads straight to Anarchy. 
— Liberty, September 12, 1885. 

To the Czar of Russia is due the credit of applying practi- 
cally to taxation the reductio ad absiirdum. Heretofore all his 
subjects have enjoyed at least the highly estimable privilege 
of praying for their rights free of cost. Any morning any of 
them could put in as many petitions as they chose to Alex- 
ander himself or any of his ministers for relief from any 
grievance whatsoever. Now, however, this state of things is 
no more. The last liberty of the Russian has been taken from 
him. The right of petition has been made the subject of a tax. 
Before the aggrieved citizen can make his grievance officially 


known, he must pay sixty kopecks into the treasury of His 
Imperial Nibs for the purchase of a stamp to put upon his 
document. Other sovereigns have taxed every other right 
under the sun, but it was left for Alexander III. to tax the 
right to demand your rights. No citizen of Russia can now 
ask his " dear father " to let him alone without paying sixty 
kopecks an ask. This is the act of a notoriously cruel despot. 
See now how much wiser the policy of a reputedly benevolent 
one, Dom Pedro of Brazil. He also is the author of a novelty 
in taxation. No Brazilian husband, who, becoming suspicious 
of his wife, detects her and her lover in flagrante delicto, can 
hereafter legally establish such discovery until he has first 
poured into the State's coffers a sum slightly exceeding two 
dollars and a half. This is a use of tyranny that almost in- 
clines me to wink at it. Bleeding domestic tyrants is better 
business than political tyrants are wont to engage in. If there 
must be a tax-gatherer, I shall vote for Dom Pedro. — Liberty, 
November 14, 1885. 

The latest piece of governmental infernalism is the proposi- 
tion to raise the " age of consent " to eighteen years. It 
sounds quite harmless, and belongs to that class of measures 
which especially allure stiff-necked moralists, pious prudes, 
" respectable " radicals, and all the other divisions of the 
" unco guid." But what does it mean ? It means that, if 
a girl of seventeen, of mature and sane mind, whom even the 
law recognizes as a fit person to be married and the mother of 
a family, shall love a man and win his love in return, and if 
this mutual love, by the voluntary and deliberate act of both 
parties, shall find sexual expression outside of the " forms of 
law " made and provided by our stupid legislatures, the man 
may be found guilty of committing rape and sent to prison for 
twenty years. Such is the real nature of this proposition, 
whatever attempts may be made to conceal it beneath the 
garments of sentimentalism and moralism. It is an outrage 
on manhood, and on womanhood not only an outrage, but an 
insult. And yet it is put forward in the interest of young girls' 
honor. Honor, forsooth I As if it were possible to more 
basely dishonor a woman already several years past the age at 
which Nature provided her with the power of motherhood than 
by telling her that she hasn't brains enough to decide whether 
and in what way she will become a mother \— Liberty, April 
17, 1886. 

In these days of boycott trials a great deal of nonsense is 
being talked and written regarding "blackmail." This is 


a question which the principle of Liberty settles at once. It 
may be well to state the verdict boldly and baldly. Here it 
is : Any individual may place any condition he chooses, pro- 
vided the condition be not in itself invasive, upon the doing 
or not doing of anything which he has a right to do or not do ; 
but no individual can rightfully be a party to any bargain 
which makes a necessarily invasive condition incumbent upon 
any of the contracting parties. From which it follows that 
an individual may rightfully " extort" money from another by 
" threatening " him with certain consequences, provided those 
consequences are of such a nature that he can cause them 
without infringing upon anybody's rights. Such " extortion " 
is generally rather mean business, but there are circumstances 
under which the most high-minded of men might resort to it 
without doing violence to his instincts, and under no circum- 
stances is it invasive and therefore wrongful, unless the act 
threatened is invasive and therefore wrongful. Therefore to 
punish men who have taken money for lifting a boycott is 
oppression pure and simple. Whatever may be the " com- 
mon law " or the " statute law " of blackmail, this — to use Mr. 
Spooner's phrase — is the natural law that governs it. — Liberty, 
July 31, 1886. 

The methods pursued by District Assembly 49 of the Knights 
of Labor in the conduct of the recent strike have driven Mayor 
Hewitt and divers other capitalistic publicists into a state of 
frenzy, so that they now lose no opportunity to frantically de- 
clare that one set of men must not be permitted to deprive 
other sets of men of the right to labor. This is a white- 
bearded truth, but, when spoken in condemnation of the 
Knights of Labor for ordering members in one branch of in- 
dustry to quit work for the purpose of strengthening strikers 
in another branch by more completely paralyzing business, it 
is given a tone of impertinence more often characteristic of 
callow juvenility than of venerable old age. I can't see for 
my life whose liberty is encroached upon by such a procedure. 
Certainly not that of the men ordered to quit, because they 
joined the Knights, a voluntary organization, for certain ex- 
press purposes, of which this was one, and, when they no 
longer approve it, can secede from it and then work when and 
where they please. Certainly not, on the other hand, that of 
the employers who thus lose their workmen, because, if it is 
no invasion of liberty for the individual workman to leave his 
employer in obedience to any whim whatsoever, it is equally 
no invasion of liberty for a body of workmen to act likewise, 


even though they have no grievance against their employer. 
Who, then, are deprived of their liberty ? None. All this 
outcry simply voices the worry of the capitalists over the 
thought that laborers have learned one of their own tricks, — 
the art of creating a corner. The policy of District Assembly 
49 (whether wise or foolish is another question) was simply 
one of cornering labor, which is much easier to justify than 
cornering capital, because the cornered labor is withheld from 
the market by its rightful owners, while the cornered capital 
is withheld by men who never could have obtained it except 
through State-granted privilege to extort and rob. — Liberty, 
March 12, 1887. 

All the indignation that is rife over the decision of Wor- 
cester shoe manufacturers and Chicago master builders to em- 
ploy only such men as will sign an agreement practically, 
excluding them from their unions is very ill spent. These 
employers have a perfect right to hire men on whatever con- 
ditions the men will accept. If the latter accept cruel condi- 
tions, it is only because they are obliged to do so. What thus 
obliges them ? Law-sustained monopolies. Their relief lies, 
then, not in depriving employers of the right of contract, but 
in giving employees the same right of contract without crip- 
pling them in advance. — Liberty, May 28, 1887. 

Judge McCarthy, of the Pennsylvania supreme court, having 
to pass upon the question whether, under the Pennsylvania 
liquor law, licenses should be granted in a certain county, de- 
cided against granting them because he was opposed to the 
•law, saying in the opinion which he filed : " When laws are 
passed that seem to conflict with God's injunctions, we are 
not compelled to obey them." I'll warrant that that same 
judge, were an Anarchist, arraigned before him for the viola- 
tion of some unjust statute, to claim that he followed either 
God's injunction or any other criterion of conduct in his eyes 
superior to the statute, would give the prisoner three months 
extra for his impudence. — Liberty, September 10, 1887. 

The Providence People lays it down as one of three " funda- 
mentals " that " every child should be guaranteed a free com- 
plete education, physically, mentally, morally, and industri- 
ally." What is a complete education ? Who's got one that he 
can guarantee ? Who, if he had one and nothing else, could 
afford to impart it to another free of charge ? Even if he 
could afford to, why should he do so ? Why should he not be 
paid for doing so ? If he is to be paid, who should pay hina 


except the recipient of the education or those upon whom 
the recipient is directly dependent ? Do not these questions 
cut under the " fundamental " of the People?" Is it, then, a 
fundamental, after all ? — Liberty, December 3, 1887. 

Not content with getting the " age of consent " raised from 
ten to thirteen, a bevy of impertinent and prudish women 
went up to the Massachusetts State House the other day and 
asked that it be raised again, — this time to eighteen. When a 
member of the legislative committee suggested that the age 
be placed at thirt5'-five, since the offence aimed at was as 
much a crime at thirty-five as eighteen, the petitioners did 
not seem to be terrified by his logic. Evidently these ladies 
are not afraid that their consent will ever be asked at all. — 
Liberty, February 11, 1888. 

At the end of a protest against the addition, of the higher 
branches of education to the curriculum of the public 
schools, the Winsted Press says: "The common district 
school, thoroughly well conducted, is good enough for com- 
mon folks. Let the uncommon folks have uncommon schools 
and pay for them." True enough; but, if common folks 
should not be made to pay for uncommon schools, why 
should uncommon folks be made to pay for common schools ? 
—Liberty, April 28, 1888. 

A New Jersey court has decided that the will of a citizen 
of that State, by which Henry George was given a large sum 
of money for the circulation of his books, is invalid on the. 
ground that the bequest is not educational or charitable, but 
intended for the spread of doctrines contrary to the law of 
the land. Probably the judge who rendered this decision 
thinks regarding the determination of economic truth, as Mr. 
George thinks regarding the issue of money, the collection of 
rents, the carrying of letters, the running of railroads, and 
sundry other things, that it is " naturally a function of gov- 
ernment." And really, if Mr. George is right, I do not see 
why the judge is not right. Yet I agree that Mr. George has 
correctly branded him as an " immortal ass." — Liberty, May 
26, 1888. 

A California friend sends me. a copy of the Weekly Star of 
San Francisco containing an article which, if a tenth part of 
it be true, shows that city and State to be under the pestilent 
control of a band of felons. At the end of the article the 
writer, regardless of the fact that this state of things is the 


direct outgrowth of the government of man by man, proposes 
to add to the powers of this government the exclusive man- 
agement of the telegraph system, of the banking system, and 
of corporate enterprises, as wefl as a vast new field of judica- 
ture. To this political servant, who has not even the grace to 
hide in the earth the talent intrusted to him, but insists on 
using it as a scourge upon mankind, the editor of the Weekly 
Star says : " Thou hast been unizx'CcdvX over a few things ; I 
will make thee ruler over many things." I am not surprised 
to find from another column of the same paper that the edi- 
tor looks upon Anarchists as pestilent mischief-makers and 
noisy blatherskites. — Liberty, July 7, 1888. 

Colonel Ingersoll has recently promulgated the theory that 
the husband should never be released from the marriage con- 
tract unless the wife has violated it, but that the wife should be 
allowed a divorce merely for the asking. Presumably this is in- 
tended for chivalry, but it really is an insult to every self-re- 
specting woman. It is a relic of the old theory that woman is 
an inferior being, with whom it is impossible for a man to 
treat as an equal. No woman worthy of the name and fully 
understanding the nature of her act would ever consent to 
union with a man by any contract which would not secure his 
liberty equally with her own. — Liberty, August 18, 1888. 

The theoretical position taken by Henry George in regard 
to competition is that free trade should prevail everywhere ex- 
cept in those lines of business where in the nature of things 
competition can exist only partially if at all, and that in such 
lines there should be a government monopoly^ Yet in a recent 
speech in England he declared that it was not quite clear to 
him whether the sale of liquor should be free or monopolized 
by the government. Mr. George, then, if honest and logical, 
must entertain a suspicion of the existence of some natural re- 
striction upon competition in the sale of liquor. Will he be 
so good as to point it out ? No, he will not ; and for the rea- 
son that his professed criterion is simply a juggler's attempt to 
conceal under something that looks like a scientific formula 
his arbitrary method of deciding that in such a channel of en- 
terprise there shall be free trade, and in such another there 
shall be none. — Liberty, February 2, 1889. 

The allopathic physicians of Massachusetts, having worked 
in vain for several years to obtain a legal monopoly of the 
practice of medicine, have concluded that a sure half loaf is 
better than a steadily diminishing slice, and so have gone intQ 


partnership with one or two factions of the "quacks" to 
prevent all other " quacks " from following their profession. 
This year the allopaths have taken the homoeopaths and ec- 
lectics into the ring, and by thfs political manoeuvre they hope 
to secure the valuable privilege which they are aiming at, on 
the plea which privileged classes always make, — that of pro- 
tecting the masses. The battle is being stubbornly fought at 
the State House, and at a recent hearing before the judiciary 
committee Geo. M. Stearns of Chicopee, who appeared for 
the " quacks," made one of the wittiest, keenest, and most un- 
compromising speeches in favor of absolute liberty in medi- 
cine that ever fell from a lawyer's lips. It is a pity that some 
of his clients who followed him were not equally consistent. 
For instance. Dr. J. Rhodes Buchanan, who is a sort of quack- 
in-chief, in the course of a long argument made to convince 
the committee of the right of the patient to choose his own 
doctor, declared that he would favor a bill which would make 
treatment of cancer with a knife malpractice The old story 
again. In medicine as in theology orthodoxy is my doxy 
and heterodoxy is your doxy. This " quack," who is so out- 
raged because the " regulars " propose to suppress him, clearly 
enough aches for a dictator's power that he may abolish the 
regulars. He reminds one of those Secularists whose indig- 
nation at being compelled to pay taxes for the support of 
churches in which they do not believe is only equalled by the 
delight which they take in compelling church-members to pay 
taxes for the support of schools to which they are opposed. 
And yet there are good friends of Liberty who insist that I, in 
condemning these people, show an inability to distinguish be- 
tween friends artd foes. The truth is that, unlike these criti- 
cal comrades, I am not to be blinded to the distinction between 
friends and foes by a mere similarity of shibboleth. — Liberty, 
February 23, 1889. 

While justly censuring the centralized authority which is the 
essence of the scheme upon which the Topolobampo colony 
is founded, the Chicago Unity says nevertheless that, since 
we are privileged to stay away, " Mr. Owen's plan is in this 
respect a great improvement on Nationalism, or other forms of 
State Socialism, which would oblige all citizens, though directly 
in opposition to their own convictions and wishes, to submit 
to the new despotism." This is very true ; but I wonder if 
Unity realizes that among these " other forms of State So- 
cialism " which oblige all citizens to submit to their despot- 
ism in opposition to the citizens' wishes, and to which there- 


fore Mr. Owen's plan, hideous as it is, is in this respect supe- 
rior, is properly to be classed the existing United States gov- 
ernment. — Liberty, May 16, 1891. 

The original patent of the Bell Telephone Company expires 
in March, 1893. " From personal tests in Boston," says an ex- 
pert in this matter, " I know they have practical instruments 
that are one hundred per cent, better than those in use now. 
They are keeping these instruments in reserve to meet the 
competition of the future. The Western Union Telegraph 
Company is doing the same thing." A paper called the Canal 
Dispatch, commenting on this, indignantly complains that 
" some of the glorious and useful instruments of the nine- 
teenth century are lying under lock and key as the fruit of 
' free competition.' " This indignation is righteous, but mis- 
directed. It is not free competition that is keeping these im- 
provements locked up, but that form of monopoly known as 
property in ideas. As the expert points out, as soon as the 
patent expires and competition arriv es, the improvements will 
be brought to light. — Liberty, May 16, 1891. 

In an article justifying the prohibition of the liquor traffic, 
the Atlantic (Iowa) Investigator says : " According to the 
Anarchistic theory, the government has no right to prohibit 
anything, but only has the right to interfere where a wrong has 
been done, and then only to make the wrong-doer repair dam- 
ages." I know not the source whence \ht Investigator &^x\\&^ 
this notion of Anarchism, but it is certainly a mistaken one. 
As to government. Anarchism holds that it has no business to 
do anything whatsoever or even to exist ; but voluntary defen- 
sive associations acting on the Anarchistic principle would 
not only demand redress for, but would prohibit, all clearly 
invasive acts. They would not, however, prohibit non-invasive 
acts, even though these acts create additional opportunity for 
invasive persons to act invasively. For instance, they would 
not prevent the buying and selling of liquor, even though it be 
true that some people are invasive when under the influence 
of liquor. The Investigator has failed to grasp the Anar- 
chistic view. It makes the dividing line of Anarchism run 
between prohibition of injury and compulsory redress, whereas 
Anarchism really includes both. Its dividing line runs in an 
entirely different direction, and separates invasion from non- 
invasion. Let the Investigator try again, — Liberty, May 30, 


The editor of the Arena longs for the " era of woman " 
because, when it arrives, States being woman-governed instead 
of man-governed, the " age of consent " will be placed at 
eighteen years. Pointing to the example set in this respect 
by Kansas and Wyoming, the States which come nearest to 
being woman-governed, he says in rebuking italics : " All the 
other States trail the banner of morality in the dust before the dic- 
tates of man's bestiality." Mr. Flower supposes himself to be an 
individualist, and sometimes writes in favor of individualism 
in a way that commands my admiration. But I am curious 
to know by what rule he applies the theory of individualism, 
that he can bring himself to violate and deny the individual- 
ity of the girl who wrote " The Story of an African Farm," 
by favoring a law which would send to prison for twenty 
years, as guilty of rape, any man with whom she might have 
freely chosen, at the age when she began to write that book, 
to enter into sexual relations. Had Olive Schreiner lived in 
civilized Wyoming instead of semi-barbarous South Africa, 
and had she chosen to practise the theories which she favors 
in her book, she would indeed have been raped ; not however 
by the lover of her choice, but by the women who deny her 
the right of choice, and by the men like B. O. Flower, who 
glory in this denial ; raped, not of virginity, that paltry, 
tawdry, and overrated gewgaw, but of liberty, that priceless, 
matchless jewel, which it is becoming fashionable to despise. 
— Liberty, August i, 1891. 

For one I shall shed no tears if the New York law forbid- 
ding the publication of accounts of executions is rigorously 
enforced and its violators severely punished. Much as I 
value the liberty of the press, yes, because I value it, I should 
like to see the knife of authority buried to the hilt in the ten- 
derest part of the ordinarily truckling newspapers of New 
York and then turned vigorously and mercilessly round. Per- 
haps, after that, Comstock laws, anti-lottery laws, and other 
similar legal villainies would no longer be made possible by 
the subservient hypocrites who cry out against oppressions 
only when victimized themselves. For some time past the 
New York Sun has been violating law with boasting and defi- 
ance, and yet, because in Tennessee a forcible attempt has 
been made to prevent the employment of convicts in the 
mines, and because in Kansas an Alliance judge has disobeyed 
the decree of the supreme court, it solemnly declares that to 
disregard law " is resistance to the will of the people, except 
in the case of an unconstitutional statute, which is really no 


la>v at all." The exception here entered by the Sun to save 
it's own skin does not avail for that purpose. Who is to decide 
whether a statute is unconstitutional? The supreme court, 
the Sun will answer. But is the Sun prepared, in case the 
supreme court declares the law regarding executions constitu- 
tional, to condemn its own course in violating the law ? I 
think not. But then it must allow to the Tennessee laborers 
and the Kansas judge the same liberty that it claims for itself. 
If the " higher law " doctrine is good for anything, it is good, 
not only against legislatures, but against supreme courts. On 
the other hand, if it is good for nothing, the Sun should take 
its own advice to other law-breakers, and, instead of violating 
the law regarding executions, should go to the ballot-box and 
get it repealed. But the Sun will not be thus heedful of con- 
sistency. That jewel is not prized by hogs. The 6'z^m is a hog, 
an organ of hogs, an apologist for hogs ; and I shall not grieve 
to see it butchered like a hog. — Liberty, August i, 1891. 

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a very clever man on its 
editorial staff. His editorials are far above the ordinary literary 
level of the journalist, are often sensible, and always show a 
decided inclination to serious consideration of the subjects with 
which they deal, and to independent and original thought. 
But occasionally his originality carries him too far. Witness 
the following original discovery, which he gave to the world 
unpatented in a recent editorial against woman suffrage: " No- 
body who is not an Anarchist in theory, if not in practice, ever 
pretended that suffrage was a natural right ; but from the 
Anarchist point of view that suffrage is a natural right, you 
can just as easily argue, as Anarchists do, that ' property is rob- 
bery.' " If this editor had ever investigated Anarchism, of 
course he would know that most Anarchists do not believe in 
natural rights at all ; that not one of them considers suffrage 
a natural right ; that, on the other hand, they all agree on the 
central proposition that rule is evil, and on the corollary that 
it is none the better for being majority rule. Anarchism is as 
hostile to the ballot as peace is to gunpowder. — Liberty, August 
29, 1891. 

I wonder if the people of Massachusetts know that their 
law-makers made a law this year punishing with imprisonment 
for life every criminal or pauper who has the syphilis. Such 
is the astounding fact. To be more specific, the law provides 
that any inmate of a State penal or charitable institution who, 
at the expiration of his term of imprisonment, shall be afflicted 


with syphilis shall not be discharged, but shall be detained in 
the institution until cured. As syphilis is seldom cured, this 
means in most cases life-imprisonment. Hereafter, in Massa- 
chusetts, only the rich and the law-abiding are to be allowed 
to have the syphilis and liberty too. — Liberty, August 29, 1891. 

A certain class of littirateurs are raising their voices against 
the " degradation of literature " which they see in the adver- 
tisement by the newspapers of " Mr. Howells's $10,000 novel." 
The question occurs to me : if literature suffers no degrada- 
tion from Mr. Howells's receipt of f 10,000 for the right to pub- 
lish his novel serially, how can it be injured by the announce- 
ment of the fact ? That the whole business is degrading to 
literature I have no doubt, but the real source of the degra- 
dation is the State-created monopoly which enables Mr. How- 
ells to put such a price upon his work. And yet in the eyes 
of these offended 'litterateurs it is this monopoly that uplifts 
literature. It is creditable to their instincts, though not to 
their reason, that, having obtained for literature " the proud 
reward to which it is entitled," they are ashamed to let the 
public know the amount of this reward. — Liberty, November 7, 

There has been a law on the Pennsylvania statute books 
since 1885 prohibiting the manufacture and sale of butterine. 
Under the decisions of the United States courts, however, pro- 
ducers outside tfie State are able to ship their goods into the 
State and sell them in the original packages. An increasing 
number of dealers buy these packages, open them, and retail 
from them in violation of the law. So prevalent has this 
practice become that the Pennsylvania butchers, who used to 
sell their fats to the butterine factories, and now have to sell 
them in Holland much less advantageously, are taking advan- 
tage of it to prosecute the guilty parties in the hope of secur- 
ing a repeal of the obnoxious law. Meanwhile the dear and 
protected people, instead of eating sweet and wholesome but- 
terine, are forced to eat strong butter, for which they pay a 
monopoly price to the protected farmers and dairymen. The 
people are protected in the right to be robbed, and the 
farmers and dairymen in the right to rob. All these protec- 
tions should be wiped out. The only protection which honest 
people need is protection against that vast Society for the 
Creation of Theft which is euphemistically designated as the 
State, — Liberty, May 14, 1892. 

The individual, soCietV, and the StATE. 171 

Talk about bloodthirsty Anarchists ! Listen to this. It is 
the editor of the American Architect who speaks. " So far 
as principle goes, we would like to see any interference with 
the employment of a man willing to work, any request or de- 
mand- — direct or indirect— /or the discharge of a faithful work- 
man, or any attempt at coercion of a workman, by threats of 
any sort, to leave his work, punishable with death." Here 
we have Archism in full flower. If John Smith politely asks 
Jim Jones to discharge or not to employ industrious and faith- 
ful Sam Robinson, kill him. Such is capitalism's counsel to 
the courts. If it should be acted upon, I hold that the people 
would have better cause to charge the Architect editor with 
conspiracy to murder, find him guilty, and dynamite him, 
than had the State of Illinois to find a similar verdict against 
Spies and his comrades and hang them. I wonder if the 
Architect editor would be willing to see his principle carried 
out impartially. Fancy, for instance, the electrocution of 
Col. Eliot ■ F. Shepard for blacklisting an industrious and 
faithful Fifth Avenue stage-driver on account of his use of 
profane language and asking the superintendents of horse-car 
lines not to employ him. If incendiary counsel shall bring on 
a bloody revolution, the chief sin thereof will lie upon the 
capitalists and their hired advocates, and bitterly will they pay 
the penalty. In these modern days there are many Foulons, 
some of whom may yet eat grass. — Liberty, May 21, 1892. 

In the State of New York an unsuccessful attempt to com- 
mit suicide is punishable as a crime. It is proposed that Anar- 
chists of foreign birth shall not be allowed to become citizens. 
Attorney-General Miller wishes suffrage to be made compul- 
sory by the disfranchisement of all who neglect to use the 
ballot. The New York Health Inspectors, when on a fruit- 
condemning expedition the other day, after seizing a push-cart 
full of green peaches turned it over to two messenger-boys, in 
(^nsequence of which some fifty urchins had a feast and pos- 
sibly several funerals. A government that gives away the 
germs of disease which it will not allow others to sell ; a gov- 
ernment that insists on disfranchising people who will not vote; 
a government that refuses to naturalize people who refuse to 
be naturalized ; a government that refuses life to people who 
refuse to live, — well, for a good farce such a government is 
certainly a good farce. — Liberty, August 13, 1892. 

Another monopoly is threatened. At present, as is well 
known, Wagner's " Parsifal " can be performed only at Bay- 

1|?2 llsrSTEAt) OF A BOOK. 

reuth. This music-drama is Madame Wagner's property, and 
she refuses to allow any one else to produce it. But in Aus- 
tria, it seems, every copyrighted work becomes free ten years 
after the author's death. Next year, therefore, " Parsifal " can 
be performed in Austria by any one who chooses. Madame 
Wagner is moving heaven and earth to secure the passage of a 
new law in Austria in the interest of her monopoly, and it is 
said that she may succeed. If she does, then Austrians, like 
Frenchmen, Englishmen, Americans, and the people of all 
other nations who have chosen to make slaves of themselves, 
must continue to pay tribute, not only to Madame Wagner, 
but to hotel-keepers and railroad corporations, if they desire 
to witness a representation of the greatest achievement in 
musical composition yet attained. This situation illustrates 
another absurdity of property in ideas, to which attention has 
never been called in these columns. As long as Madame Wagner 
is allowed to retain her monopoly, — and really if it is rightfully 
her property, it ought never to be taken from her,--— the price 
which a man must pay to see " Parsifal " is proportionate to 
the distance between his residence and Bayreuth. The citi- 
zen of Bayreuth pays but five dollars for the privilege which 
must cost a citizen of the United States from two to four 
hundred dollars. And this because of one woman's will and 
the rest of the world's lack of will. It may be replied, of 
course, that the same situation exists regarding many works of 
art and nature, and cannot be avoided,- — for instance, a paint- 
ing by Titian or the falls of Niagara. This is unfortunately 
true ; but the only good reason for putting up with such a 
state of things is that we cannot help ourselves. We pay heav- 
ily to see Niagara Falls because we cannot reproduce Niagara 
Falls within walking distance of our homes. But is the fact 
that we must pay more for things we cannot duplicate a good 
reason for paying more for things that can be duplicated ? — 
Liberty, September 24, 1892. 

The recent strike at Carmaux, France, was followed by an 
agitation for compulsory arbitration of disputes between capi- 
tal and labor. There was a lively fight over it in the French 
Chamber, which fortunately had the good sense to vote the* 
measure down. Of all the demands made upon government 
in the interest of labor this is perhaps the most foolish. I 
wonder if it has ever occurred to the laborers who make it 
that to grant their desire would be to deny that cherished 
right to strike upon which they have insisted so strenuously 
and for so many years. Suppose, for instance, a body of oper- 

fHfe lisrbivibuAL, society, anjd the state. i(/j 

atives decide to strike in defence of an interest which they 
deem vital and to maintain which they are prepared and de- 
termined to struggle to the end. Immediately comes along 
the board of arbitration, which compels strikers and employ- 
ers to present their case and then renders a decision. Suppose 
the decision is adverse to the strikers. They are bound to ac- 
cept it, the arbitration being compulsory, or suffer the penalty, 
— for there is no law without a penalty. What then has be- 
come of their right to strike ? It has been destroyed. They 
can ask for what they want ; a higher power immediately de- 
cides whether they can have it ; and from this decision there 
is no appeal. Labor thus would be prohibited by law from 
struggling for its rights. And yet labor is so short-sighted 
that it asks for this very prohibition ! — Liberty, November 19, 



[Liberty, August 6, 1881.] 

" Somebody gets the surplus wealth that labor produces and 
does not consume. Who is the Somebody ? " Such is the 
problem recently posited in the editorial columns of the New- 
York Truth. Substantially the same question has been asked 
a great many times before, but, as might have been expected, 
this new form of putting it has created no small hubbub. 
Truth's columns are full of it ; other journals are taking it up ; 
clubs are organizing to discuss it ; the people are thinking 
about it ; students are pondering over it. For it is a most mo- 
mentous question. A correct answer to it is unquestionably the 
first step in the settlement of the appalling problems of pov- 
erty, intemperance, ignorance, and crime. Truth, in selecting 
it as a subject on which to harp and hammer from day to day, 
shows itself a level-headed, far-sighted newspaper. But, im- 
portant as it is, it is by no means a difficult question to one 
who really considers it before giving an answer, thougtl the 
variety and absurdity of nearly all the replies thus far volun- 
teered certainly tend to give an opposite impression. 

What are the ways by which men gain possession of prop- 
erty ? Not many. Let us name them: work, gift, discovery, 
gaming, the various forms of illegal robbery by force or fraud, 
usury. Can men obtain wealth by any other than one or 
more of these methods ? Clearly, no. Whoever the Somebody 
may be, then, he must accumulate his riches in one of these 
ways. We will find him by the process of elimination. 

Is the Somebody the laborer ? No ; at least not as laborer ; 
otherwise the question were absurd. "Its premises exclude 
him. He gains a bare subsistence by his work ; no more. 
We are searching for his surplus product. He has it not. 

Is the Somebody the beggar, the invalid, the cripple, the 
discoverer, the gambler, the highway robber, the burglar, the 
defaulter, the pickpocket'^ or the common swindler? None 
of these, to any extent worth mentioning. The aggregate of 
wealth absorbed by these classes of our population compared 


I7S -mSTEAD OF A DOC!i:. ^ 

with the vast mass produced is a mere drop in the ocean, 
unworthy of consideration in studying a fundamental problem 
of political economy. These people get some wealth, it is 
true ; enough, probably, for their own purposes: but labor can 
spare them the whole of it, and never know the difference. 

Then we have'found him. Only the usurer remaining, he 
must be the Somebody whom we are looking for; he, and none 
other. But who is the usurer, and whence comes his power ? 
There are three forms of usury : interest on money, rent of 
land and houses, and profit in exchange. Whoever is in 
receipt of any of these is a usurer. And who is not ? Scarcely 
.any one. The banker is a usurer ; the manufacturer is a 
usurer; the merchant is a usurer; the landlord is a usurer; and 
the workingman who puts his savings, if he has any, out at 
interest, or takes rent for his house or lot, if he owns one, or 
exchanges his labor for more than an equivalent,— he too is a 
usurer. The sin of usury is one under which all are concluded, 
and for which all are responsible. But all do not benefit by 
it. The vast majority suffer. Only the chief usurers accumu- 
late: in agricultural and thickly-settled countries, the landlords; 
in industrial and commercial countries, the bankers. Those 
are the Somebodies who swallow up the surplus wealth. 

And where do the Somebodies get their power ? From 
monopoly. Here, as usual, the State is the chief of sinners. 
Usury rests on two great monopolies, — the monopoly .of land 
and the monopoly of credit. Were it not for these, it would 
disappear. Ground-rent exists only because the State stands 
by to collect it and to protect land-titles rooted in force or 
fraud. Otherwise the land would be free to all, and no one 
could control more than he used. Interest and house-rent 
exist only because the State grants to a certain class of 
individuals and corporations the exclusive privilege of using 
its credit and theirs as a basis for the issuance of circulating 
currency. Otherwise credit would be free to all, and money, 
brought under the law of competition, would be issued at 
cost. Interest and rent gone, competition would leave little 
or no chance for profit in exchange except in business 
protected by tariff of patent laws. And there again the State 
has but to step aside to cause the last vestige of usury to 

The usurer is the Somebody, and the State is his protector. 
Usury is the serpent gnawing at labor's vitals, and only 
liberty can detach and kill it. Give laborers their liberty, and 
they will keep their wealth. As for the Somebody, he, stripped 
of his power to steal, must either join their ranks or starve. 



[Liieriy, September 17, 1881.] 

One of the most noteworthy of Thomas Jefferson's sayings 
was that he " had rather Hve under newspapers without a 
government than under a government without newspapers." 
The Czar of Russia proposes to make this alternative unneces- 
sary by estabHshing a national weekly journal to be distributed 
gratuitously in every village, whose carefully-concocted news 
paragraphs, severely-sifted political items, and rose-tinted ed- 
itorials shall be read aloud on Sundays by designated offi- 
cials to the assembled multitudes. This absurd proposa:l is 
no more absurd than that of a delegate to the State Conven- 
tion of the Massachusetts Greenbackers, who desired that the 
government should add to its functions that of the collection 
of news to be furnished gratuitously to the daily journals. 
And this again is no more absurd than some of the proposals 
actually endorsed by a majority of the delegates to the same 
convention, nearly all of whose measures and methods, in 
fact, are quite of a piece with those of the aforesaid Czar. 

For instance, one of the resolutions adopted (and we grieve 
to say that it was introduced by no less a person than our 
excellent and earnest friend, J. M. L. Babcock of Cambridge) 
asks the legislature to compel all corporations to distribute their 
profits in excess of six per cent, among their employees in the 
proportion of the scale of wages. Saying nothing of the fact 
that this resolution seriously offends liberty by denying that 
the equitable distribution of property which the labor move- 
ment seeks must result, not from legislative enactment, but 
from the free play of natural laws, it also offends equity by 
admitting that capital is entitled to a portion of labor's 
product, and that the producer is entitled to exact a profit 
from the consumer ! Yet we are told» that only one man in 
that whole convention had the brains and the courage to rise 
from his seat and proclaim the great truth that, if labor can 
claim anything, it can and should claim all. What wonder 
that this half-hearted, half-headed Greenback party excites 
among intelligent people no sentiment higher than that of a 
pity akin to contempt ! Mr. Babcock's resolution would take 
the labor movement off of its basis of right, .and degen- 
erate it into an unprincipled scramble for spoils by which the 
strongest would profit. Take the half -loaf who will ; we shall 
iiever cease to reiterate that the whole loaf rightfully belongs 


to those who raise the wheat from the soil, grind it into flour, 
and bake it into bread, and not the smallest taste of it to the 
sharpers who deceive the unthinking masses into granting 
them a monopoly of the opportunities of performing these 
industrial operations, which opportunities they in return rent 
back to the people on condition of receiving the other half of 
the loaf. 


\_Liberty, October i, 1881.] 

My dear Mr. Tucker : 

Why do you " grieve " at a difference of opinion between us ? Am I 
to be bribed to agree with a valued friend by the fear that he will grieve 
if I do not? Liberty, I should say, imposes no such burden on freedom 
of thought, but rather rejoices in its fullest exercise. 

I did not know that the "no-profit" theory had become so well es- 
tablished, or so generally accepted, as to render ridiculous any proposi- 
tion not based upon it. 

Yet that is the only point I understand you to urge against the measure 
I proposed. But I never could see that labor, in its unequal struggle for 
its rights, gained anything by extravagant claims. Whatever contributes 
to production is entitled to an equitable share in the distribution. In the 
production of a loaf of bread (the example which you set forth in a magnif- 
icent paragraph), the plough performs an important, if not indispensable 
service, and equitably comes in for a share of the loaf. Is that share to be 
a slice which compensates only for the wear and tear? It seems to me 
that it should be slightly thicker, even if no more than "the ninth part of 
a hair." For suppose one man spends his life in making ploughs to be 
used by others wfio sow and harvest wheat. If he furnishes his ploughs 
only on condition that they be returned to him in as good state as when 
taken away, how is he to get his bread ? Labor, empty-handed, proposes 
to raise wheat ; but it can do nothing without a plough, and asks the 
loan of one from the man who made it. If this man receives nothing more 
than his plough again, he receives nothing for the product of his own labor, 
and is on the way to starvation. What proportion he ought to receive is 
another question, on which I do not enter here ; it may be ever so small, 
but it should be something. 

Capital, we will agree, has hitherto had the lion's share ; why condemn 
a measure which simply proposes to restore to labor a portion at least of 
what it is entitled to ? 

I say nothing on the theory of " natural laws," because I understood 
you to suggest that point only to waive it. 

Cordially yours, 

J. M. L. Babcock.* 

* It should be stated that a few years after the date of this discussion 
Mr. Babcock abandoned the position here taken, became a thorough- 
going opponent of interest, and has remained such ever since. 



[From Ruskin's Letters to British Workmen.] 

What you call " wages," practically, is the quantity of food which the 
possessor of the land gives you to work for him. There is, finally, no 
" capital " but that. If all the money of all the capitalists in the whole 
world were destroyed — the notes and bills burnt, the gold irrecoverably 
buried, and all the machines and apparatus of manufactures crushed, 
by a mistake in signals, in one catastrophe — and nothing remained but 
the land, with its animals and vegetables, and buildings for shelter — the 
poorer population would be very little worse off than they are at this in- 
stant ; and their labor, instead of being "limited" by the destruction, 
would be greatly stimulated. They would feed themselves from the 
animals and growing crop ; heap here and there a few tons of ironstone 
together, build rough walls round them to get a blast, and in a fortnight 
they would have iron tools again, and be ploughing and fighting, just 
as usual. It is only we who had the capital who would suffer ; we 
should not be able to live idle, as we do now, and many of us— 1, for in- 
stance — should starve at once ; but you, though little the worse, would 
none of you be the better eventually for our loss — or starvation. The 
removal of superfluous mouths would indeed benefit you somewhat for 
a time ; but you would soon replace them with hungrier ones ; and there 
are many of us who are quite worth our meat to you in different ways, 
which I will explain in due place ; also I will show you that our money 
is really likely to be useful to you in its accumulated form (besides that, 
in the instances when it has been won by work, it justly belongs to us), 
so only that you are careful never to let us persuade you into borrowing 
it and paying us interest for it. You will find a very amusing story, ex- 
plaining your position in that case, at the one hundred and seventeenth 
page of the " Manual of Political Economy," published this year at 
Cambridge, for your early instruction, in an almost devotionally cate- 
chetical form, by Messrs. Macmillan. 

Perhaps I had better quote it to you entire ; it is taken by the author 
" from the French." 

" There was once in a village a poor carpenter who worked hard from 
morning till night. Oneday James thought to himself, 'With my hatchet, 
saw, and hammer I can only make coarse furniture, and can only get the 
pay for such. If I had a plane, I should please my customers more, and 
they would pay me more. Yes, I am resolved I will make myself a 
plane.' At the end of ten days James had in his possession an admir- 
able plane which he valued all the more for having made it himself. 
Whilst he was reckoning all the profits which he expected to derive from 
the use of it, he was interrupted by William, a carpenter in the neighbor- 
ing village. William, having admired the plane, was struck with the 
advantages which might be gained from it. He said to James : 

" ' You must do me a service; lend me the plane for a year.' As might 
be expected, James cried out, ' How can you think of such a thing, Will- 
iam? Well, if I do you this service, what will you do for me in return?' 

" W. ' Nothing. Don't ywx know that a loan ought to be gratuitous ? ' 


"/. ' I know nothing of the sort ; but I do know that if I were to 
!end you ray plane for a year, it would be giving it to you. To tell you 
ihe truth, that was not what I made it for.' 

" W. ' Very well, then ; I ask you to do me a service; what service do 
you ask me in return ? ' 

"J. ' First, then, in a year the plane will be done for. You must 
therefore give me another exactly like it.' 

" W. ' That is perfectly just. I submit to these conditions. I think 
you must be satisfied with this, and can require nothing further.' 

"/. ' I think otherwise. I made the plane for myself, and not for you. 
I expected to gain some advantage from it. I have made the plane for 
the purpose of improving my work and my condition ; if you merely 
return it to me in a year, it is you who will gain the profit of it, during 
the whole of that time. I am not bound to do you such a service with- 
out receiving anything in return. Therefore, if you wish for my plane 
besides the restoration already bargained for, you must give me a new 
plank as a compensation for the advantages of which I shall be deprived.' 

"These terms were agreed to, but the singular part of it is that at the 
end of the year, when the plane came into James's possession, he lent it 
again ; recovered it, and lent it a third and fourth time. It has passed 
into the hands of his son, who still le.nds it. Let us examine this little 
story. The plane is the symbol of all capital, and the plank is the sym- 
bol of all inteiest. " 

If this be an abridgment, what a graceful piece of highly-wrought liter- 
ature the original story must be ! I take the liberty of abridging it a 
little more. 

James makes a plane, lends it to William on ist of January for a year. 
William gives him a plank for the loan of it, wears it out, and makes 
another for James, which he gives him on 31st December. On ist Jan- 
uary he again borrows the new one ; and the arrangement is repeated 
continuously. The position of William therefore is that he makes a 
plane every 31st of December, lends it to James till the next day, and 
pays James a plank annually for the privilege of lending it to him on that 
evening. This, in future investigations of capital and interest, we will 
call, if you please, " The Position of William." 

You may not at the first glance see where the fallacy lies (the writer 
of the story evidently counts on your not seeing it at all). 

If James did not lend the plane to William, he could only get his gain 
of a plank by working with it himself and wearing it out himself. When 
he had worn it out at the end of the year, he would, therefore, have to 
make another for himself. WilViam, working with it instead, gets the 
advantage instead, which he must, therefore, pay James his plank for; 
and return to James what James would, if he had not lent his plane, 
then have had — not a new plane, but the worn-out one. James must 
make a new one for himself, as he would have had to do if no William 
had existed ; and if William likes to borrow it again for another plank, 
all is fair. 

That is to say, clearing the story of its nonsense, that James makes a 
plane annually and sells it to William for its proper price, which, in 
kind, is a new plank. But this arrangement has nothing whatever to do 
with principal or with interest. There are, indeed, many very subtle 
conditions involved in any sale ; one among which is the value of ideas; 
I will explain that value to you in the course of time (the article is not 
one which modern political economists have any familiarity with deal- 


irigs in), and I will tell you somewhat also of the real nature of inter- 
est ; but if you will only get for the present a quite clear idea of " The 
Position of William," it is all I want of you. 


\_Lil/erty, October i, 1881.] 

Liberty's strictures, in her last issue, upon the proposal of 
the Massachusetts Greenbackers, adopted at their Worcester 
convention, to ask the legislature to compel all corporations 
to distribute their profits in excess 'of six per cent, among the 
employees in proportion to their wages has stirred up Mr. 
J. M. L. Babcock, the author of that singular project, to a de- 
fence of it. And in defending it against Liberty, he is obliged 
to do so in behalf of capital. It seems a little odd to find this 
long-time defender of the rights of labor in the rSle of cham- 
pion of the claims of capital •; but we remember that he is one 
who follows the lead of justice as he sees it, take him where it 

Before proceeding to the main question, he gives us two 
minor points to settle. First, he very pertinently asks why we 
" grieve " at his course. We answer by taking it all back. As 
he says, Liberty should rejoice, rather than grieve, at the honest 
exercise of the right to differ. When we hastily said other- 
wise, we said a very foolish thing. Yes, worse than that ; in 
so far we were false to our own standard. Mr. Babcock has 
Liberty's sincerest thanks for recalling her to her own position. 
May he and all never fail to sharply prod us, whenever they 
similarly catch us napping ! * 

Second, he assumes that the profit idea cannot be ridiculous 
(as we pronounced it), since its converse is not well established 
or generally accepted. To say that the no-profit theory is 
not well established is to beg the principal question under 
discussion ; to say that, because the theory is not generally 
accepted, the few friends that it has are not entitled to ridi- 

* Reading this paragraph eleven years later, I am inclined to regret 
that I wrote it. So few are the manifestations of good nature in my po- 
lemical writings, that I can ill afford to disown any of them; but it really 
seems that on this occasion I tried a little too hard to be fair. The 
grief for which I thus apologized was over the fact that Mr. Babcock 
held ;ni opinion in favor of injustice, — not over the fact that, holding such 
an iipinion, he gave expression (o it, 



cule the position of its enemies is not in accordance with the 
nature of ideas or the custom of Mr. Babcock. How often 
have we listened with delight to his sarcastic dissection and 
merciless exposure to the light of common sense of some 
popular and well-jiigh universal delusion in religion, politics, 
finance, or social life ! He is in the habit of holding ridicu- 
lous all those things, whoever supports them, which his own 
reason pronounces absurd. And he is right in doing so, and 
wrong in saying that we ought not to follow his example. So, 
while it is clear that on the first minor point Mr. Babcock has 
the better of Liberty, on the second Liberty as decidedly has 
the better of Mr. Babcock. 

Now to the question proper. Labor, says our friend, never 
gains anything by extravagant claims. True ; and no claim 
is extravagant that does not exceed justice. But it is equally 
true that labor always loses by foolish concessions ; and in 
this industrial struggle every concession is foolish that falls 
short of justice. It is to be decided, then, not whether Liberty's 
claim for labor is extravagant, but whether it is just. "What- 
ever contributes to production is entitled to an equitable share 
in the distribution ! " Wrong ! Whoever contributes to produc- 
tion is alone so entitled. What has no rights that Who is 
bound to respect. What is a thing. Who is a person. Things 
have no claims ; they exist only to be claimed. The posses- 
sion of a right cannot be predicated of dead material, but 
only of a living person. " In the production of a loaf of bread, 
the plough performs an important service, and equitably comes 
in for a share of the loaf." Absurd ! A plough cannot own 
bread, and, if it could, would be unable to eat it. A plough is 
a What, one of those things above mentioned, to which no 
rights are attributable. 

Oh ! but we see, " Suppose one man spends his life in 
making ploughs to be used by others who sow and harvest 
wheat. If he furnishes his ploughs only on condition that 
they be returned to him in as good state as when taken away, 
how is he to get his bread ?" It is the maker of the plough, 
then, and not the plough itself, that is entitled to a reward ? 
What has given place to Who. Well, we'll not quarrel over 
that. The maker of the plough certainly is entitled to pay for 
his work. Full pay, paid once ; no more. That pay is the 
plough itself, or its equivalent in other marketable products,said 
equivalent being measured by the amount of labor employed 
in their production. But if he lends his plough and gets only 
his plough back, how is he to get his bread ? asks Mr. Babcock, 
much concerned. Ask us an easy one, if you please. We give 


this one up. But why should he lend his plough ? Why does 
he not sell it to the farmer, and use the proceeds to buy bread 
.of the baker ? See, Mr. Babcock ? If the lender of the plough 
" receives nothing more than his plough again, he receives noth- 
ing for the product of his own labor, and is on the way to 
starvation." Well, if the fool will not sell his plough, let him 
starve. Who cares ? It's his own fault. How can he expect 
to receive anything for the product of his own labor if he 
refuses to permanently part with it ? Does Mr. Babcock pro- 
pose to steadily add to this product at the expense of some 
laborer, and meanwhile allow this idler, who has only made a 
plough, to loaf on in luxury, for the balance of his life, on the 
strength of his one achievement ? - Certainly not, when our 
friend understands himself. And then he will say with us 
that the slice of bread which the plough-lender should receive 
can be neither large nor small, but must be nothing. 

To that end we commend to Mr. Babcock the words of 
his own candidate for Secretary of State, nominated at the 
Worcester convention, A. B. Brown, editor of The Republic, 
who says : " The laborers of the world, instead of having only 
a small fraction of the wealth in the world, should have all 
the wealth. To effect this all monopolies should be termina- 
ted, — whether they be monopolies of single individuals or 
' majorities,' — and labor-cost must be recognized as the measure 
and limit of price." If Mr. Brown sticks to. these words, and 
the Greenbackers to their platform, there is going to be a 
collision, and Mr. Brown will keep the track. But lest Mr. 
Brown's authority should not prove sufficient, we refer Mr. 
Babcock further to one of his favorite authors, John Ruskin, 
who argues this very point on Mr. Babcock's own ground, 
except that he illustrates his position by a plane instead of a 
.plough. Mr. Babcock may find his words under the heading, 
" The Position of William," immediately following his own 
letter to us. If he succeeds in showing Mr. Brown's assertions 
to be baseless and Mr. Ruskin's arguments to be illogical, he 
may then come to Liberty for other foes to conquer. Till 
then we shall be but an interested spectator of his contest. 



[Liberty, October 15, 1881.] 

My dear Mr. Tucker : 

It is entirely immaterial in this discussion whether my position is 
"odd "or otherwise. The question at issue must be settled, if settled 
at all, on its own merits ; and no prejudice either for or against capital 
can affect the argument. Let us burden it with no irrelevant matter. 

My question was simply this ; Is a man who loans a plough entitled in 
equity to compensation for its use ; and if not, why not? 

This question (I say it with all respect) you evade. But, until it is 
answered, no progress can be made in this inquiry, It is no answer to 
say, "Let him sell his plough." He doesnot sell it ; he loans it, as he 
has a natural right to do. Another borrows it, as he has a natural right 
to do. I repeat : Is it just to pay for its use ? 

You gain nothing when you say, "Let him sell"; for. if I followed 
you there, it would only be to present the same question substantially in 
another form. You might then suggest another alternative, until we 
" swung round the circle," and came back to the first. So let us save 
time and meet it at once. If it cannot be met where I proposed it, I do 
not see that It can be answered anywhere. If your theory will not bear 
an application to the example I stated, what is it good for ? I have never 
seen a good reason why the plough-maker is not entitled to pay for the 
use of his plough. 

You refer me to certain "authorities," — Brown and Ruskin. I do not 
bow to authorities on questions of this nature ; and I supposed you did 
not. I ask for a reason, not a name. Brown's proposition, which I 
affirm as stoutly as he does, does not answer m'y question. Ruskin is 
equally remote. He concludes that the case he examines is one of sale 
and purchase. That is not the case I stated at all. If there be an 
answer to my question, I am sure you are capable of stating it. 

Yours cordially, 

J. M. L. Babcock. 

We have no wish to vyaste these columns in repetition ; but 
this charge of evasion is a serious one, which can be thor- 
oughly examiried only by reviewing ground already traversed. 
One of the objects that we had in view in beginning the 
publication of this journal was the annihilation of usury. 
If in our first direct conflict with a supporter of usury we have 
been guilty of evasion, we are unfitted for our task, and ought 
to abandon it to hands more competent. But we unhesitatingly 
plead " not guilty." 

Mr. Babcock argued that the man who makes a plough and 
lends it is entitled to a portion of the loaf subsequently pro- 
duced in addition to the return of his plough intact. He now 
asserts that we answered this by saying, " Let him sell his 
plough." No, we did not. On the principle that onlv labor cw 


be an equitable basis of price, we argued in reply as follows: 
" The maker of the plough certainly is entitled to pay for his 
work. Full pay, paid once ; no more. That pay is the plough 
itself, or its equivalent in other marketable products, said 
equivalent being measured by the amount of labor employed 
in their production." True or false, this answer is direct and 
tangible ; in no sense is it evasive. Then Mr. Babcock asked 
this other and distinct question: " If he furnishes his ploughs 
only on condition that they be returned to him in as good 
state as when taken away, how is he to get his bread ? " We 
replied that we did not know,' and that, if he was such a fool 
as to do so, we did not care. Nothing evasive here, either ; 
on the contrary, utter frankness. Touched a little, however, 
by Mr. Babcock's sympathy with the usurer thus threatened 
with starvation, we ventured the suggestion that, instead of 
lending his plough to the farmer, he might sell it to him, and 
thus get money wherewith to buy bread of the baker. This 
advice was gratuitous, we know ; possibly it was impertinent, 
also ; but was it evasive ? Not in the least. 

Finally, thinking that Mr. Babcock might agree, as we do, 
with Novalis that a man's belief gains quite infinitely the mo- 
ment another mind is convinced thereof, we called his atten- 
tion to two other minds in harmony with ours on the point 
now in dispute, A. B. Brown and John Ruskin. But not as 
authorities, in Mr. Babcock's sense of the word. Still, Mr. 
Brown being Mr. Babcock's candidate for Secretary of State, 
and party candidates being supposedly representative in things 
fundamental, we deemed it not out of place to cite a proposi- 
tion from Mr. Brown that seemed to us, on its face, directly 
contradictory of Mr. Babcock. To our astonishment Mr. Bab- 
cock accepts it as not inconsistent with his position, at the 
same time declaring it irrelevant. Argument ends here. If 
we hold up two objects, one of which, to our eyes, is red and 
the other blue, and Mr. Babcock declares that both are red, 
it is useless to discuss the matter. One of us is color-blind. 
The ultimate verdict of mankind will decide which. In quot- 
ing from Mr. Ruskin, however, we did not ask Mr. Babcock to 
accept him as authority, but to point out the weakness of an 
argument drawn from an illustration similar to Mr. Babcock's. 
Mr. Babcock replies by denying the similarity, saying that 
Ruskin " concludes that the case he examines is one of sale 
and purchase." Let us see. Ruskin is examining a story told 
by Bastiat in illustration and defence of usury. After printing 
Bastiat's version of it, he abridges it thus, stripping away all 
mystifying clauses: 

i88 INsteaB of a book. 

James makes a plane, lends it to William on ist of January for a year. 
William gives him a plank for the loan of it, wears it out, and makeS 
another for James, which he gives him on 31st December. On ist 
January he again borrows the new one ; and the arrangement is repeated 
continuously. The position of William, therefore, is that he makes a 
plane every 31st of December ; lends it to James till the next day, and 
pays James a plank annually for the privilege of lending it to him on 
that evening. 

Substitute in the foregoing " plough " for " plane," and 
" loaf " or " slice " for " plank," and the story differs in no 
essential point from Mr. Babcock's. How monstrously unjust 
the transaction is can be plainly seen. Ruskin next shows how 
this unjust transaction may be changed into a just one : 

If James did not lend the plane to William, he could only get his gain 
of a plank by working with it himself and wearing it out himself. When 
he had worn it out at the end of the year, he would, therefore, have to 
make another for himself. William, working with it instead, gets the 
advantage instead, which he must, therefore, pay James his plank for; 
and return to James what James would, if he had not lent his plane, 
then have had — not a new plane, but the worn-out one. James must 
make a new one for himself, as he would have had to do if no William 
had existed ; and if William likes to borrow it again for another plank, all 
is fair. That is to say, clearing the story of its nonsense, that James 
makes a plane annually and sells it to William for its proper price, 
which, in kind, is a new plank. 

It is this latter transaction, w^holly different from the former, 
that Ruskin pronounces a " sale," having " nothing whatever to 
do with principal or with interest." And yet, according to 
Mr. Babcock, " the case he examines [Bastiat's, of course] is 
one of sale and purchase." We understand now how it is that 
Mr. Babcock can charge us with evasion. He evidently con- 
ceives his method of meeting a point to be straightforward. If 
it be so, certainly ours is evasive. If, on the other hand, our 
course has been straightforward, evasion is too mild a term for 
his. It is better described as fiat misstatement ; purely care- 
less, of course, but scarcely less excusable than if wilful. 
Again we invite our friend to a careful examination (and 
refutation, if possible) of the arguments advanced. 

Money ajstd interest. 189 


{Liiertyy November 12, 1881.] 

Mr. Tucker : 

In your issue of October 15, I notice a question by J. M. L. Babcock, 
and, although you have answered it, yet I beg to give my answer. The 
question is this : " Is a man who loans a plough entitled in equity to 
compensation for its use ?" My answer is, " Yes." Now, then, what of 
it? Does that make something for nothing right? Let us see. We 
must take it for granted that the loaning of the plough was a good business 
transaction. Such being the case, the man who borrows the plough must 
give good security that he will return the plough and pay for what he wears 
out. He must have the wealth or the credit to make the owner of the 
plough whole in case he should break or lose the plough. Now, I claim 
that this man, having the wealth or credit to secure a borrowed plough, 
could transmute that same credit or security into money, without cost, 
and with the money buy a plough, were it not for a monopoly of money. 
For a monopoly of money implies a monopoly of everything that money 
will buy. 

If the people should give to landholders, as a right, what they now 
give to bondholders as a special privilege — why, you might loan ploughs 
for a price, but the price would not include a money cost, as is inevitable 
under our present monetary system. 

Letnis remember that an individual transaction under a system of mo- 
nopoly does not represent nor illustrate the truth as it would be under a 
natural or just system. Again, superficial ideas do not always harmo- 
nize with the central truth. 

Briefly, but truly yours, 



{^Liberty, November 26, 1881.] 

My dear Mr. Tucker: 

Allow me just to say that " Apex " is in error in supposing he has an- 
swered my question. It appears by his own comment that his "Yes" 
means that the plough-lender is entitled to pay for the wear and tear of 
the plough. I asked : Is he entitled to pay for its use? I marvel that he 
should overlook the distinction, for I had been careful to mark it in 
my first statement. When the question as I put it is answered in the 
affirmative, I shall be ready to answer the other, "What of it?" But I 
am still left to the mournful impression that my question is not'answered. 

Yours cordially, 

J. M. L. Babcock. 


[Liberty^ November 26, 1881.] 

Paying money for the use of money is a great and barbarous wrong. It 
is also a stupendous absurdity. No one man can use money. The use 
of money involves its transfer from one to another. Therefore, as no one 
man can use money, it cannot be right and proper for any man to pay for 
the use of that which he cannot use. The people do use money ; conse- 
quently, they should pay whatever the money may cost. 

Money is necessarily a thing which belongs to society. This is one of 
the great truths of civilization which has been generally overlooked. For 
this whole question of the rightfulness of interest turns on the question, 
' ' What is money ? " So long as the people shall continue to consider 
money as a thing of itself objectively — why, there is no hope for humanity. 

All wealth is the product of labor, but no labor can produce money. 
There can be no money until some wealth has been produced, because 
money is a representative of wealth. 

Money is a form of credit — credit in circulation. It is not a thing of 
substance. The great object of money is to exchange values. Now, value 
is an idea, and money is used to represent, count, and exchange values. 
The symbol or token of money is not the money itself. Therefore, as 
money is not a thing of substance, and cannot wear out, it is and ever 
must be a great wrong and an utter absurdity to give wealth for the use of 
an idea. 

In equity compensation implies service or labor, and as money does not 
cost labor, why, labor cannot justly be demanded for its use. 

But let us look at it practically. The people use money ; the people 
furnish the money ; and, if the cost of issue is paid, there can be no other 
expense. The great difficulty touching this whole matter is a barbarous 
misconception of the nature of money and a more barbarous disposition 
to monopolize power and rob the weak. For — let us ask — who pays the 
great tax of interest? Not those who have and handle the money ; not 
those who use the money ; but the poor, the weak, the ignorant, the dupes 
of the ruling class. We can illustrate this by a fact of to-day. If five or 
more men liaving one hundred thousand dollars, and no more, organize 
and establish a national bank, just so soon as their bank is in operation 
they have the use and income of one hundred and ninety thousand dollars. 
Now, is it not clear that, this company having got ninety thousand dollars 
for nothing, somebody has lost that amount? For, if one man gets a 
dollar that he has not earned, some other man has earned a dollar that he 
has not got. That is as certain as that two and two make four. 

If all men could use their own credit in the form of money, there could 
be no such thing as interest. Yet, to put this idea into practice, there 
must be organization and consolidation of credit. Commercial credit, to 
be good, must be known to be good. A man's credit may be good to the 
extent of a thousand dollars, but, that fact not being generally known, he 
must, as things are, exchange his credit for that which is known to be 
good, and pay a monopoly price for the privilege of using his own credit 
in the form of money. 

Let us remember that no man can borrow money, as a good business 
transaction, under any system, unless he has the required security to make 
the lender whole in case he should lose the money. What a stupendous 


wrong is this — that a man having credit cannot use it, but must exchange 
it and pay a monopoly price, which is really for the privilege of using his 
own credit! 

And again, he cannot pay this himself, but must compel the poor man 
to work out this tax ; the latter must pay this interest in the enhanced 
price of goods. I wonder if the people will always be thus blind and 
stupid ! 

So long as business men, as such, and laborers shall continue to per- 
mit the few shrewd moneyed men to monopolize commercial credit — 
that is, money— just so long will it be hard times for business and 
labor. What we want now is the organization of credit on a just and 
equal plan. William B. Greene solved this whole matter and summed 
it up in two words : " Mutual Banking." That is what we want. 



[Liberty, December 10, 1881.] 

" Apex " says that it is a barbarism to pay interest on money. That is 
another way of saying that a state of society in which wealth is not 
universalized is barbarous, since, in our present stage of evolution, 
those who have no capital of their own will be glad to borrow from 
those who have, and to pay interest for the use of the capital. 

For it is really capital that is borrowed, and not money, the latter 
being only the means for obtaining the former, as money would be 
worthless if it could not be exchanged for the capital needed. We see 
already that, as the loanable capital of a country increases, the rate of 
interest diminishes, and when the accumulated wealth of the world be- 
comes large enough no one will pay interest. 

But to denounce the payment of interest to-day, and (if it could be 
done) to forbid the man of ability; but lacking means, borrowing the 
capital he needs, or, in other words, using his credit, would not tend to 
universalize wealth and so destroy usury ; but, on the other hand, it 
would discourage the production and accumulation of capital, since one 
of the principal incentives to that production is the use of capital to in- 
crease production and add to one's wealth. It is obvious that, unless 
[he use of capital added to the productiveness of labor, no one would 
wish to borrow, and no usury could be had. It should not be forgotten, 
in considering this question, that, in the laSt analysis, reducing things to 
their simplest, individualized form, the possessor of capital has acquired it 
by a willingness to work harder than his fellows and to sacrifice his love 
of spending all he produces that he may have the aid of capital to 
increase his power of production. For example, two men work side by 
side ; one consumes all he produces, the other saves part of his product. 
In time the latter has saved enough to enable him to build or buy a tool 
by the aid of which he accomplishes four times as much work as before, 
and is able to go on adding to his accumulation. The one who has not 
saved, seeing the advantage of the use of capital, naturally desires to 
obtain the same benefit for himself ; but, not liking to save and wait until 
he can create capital, he proposes to borrow a portion of the capital of 


the other. By means of this borrowed capital he can quadruple h's 
product, and is very willing to give a part of his increased product lo 
the neighbor who has befriended him. Would he not be a mean sneak 
if he were not glad to do so ? By the use of the borrowed capital he is 
not only enabled to pay for the advantage gained, but, by his greater 
power to produce, he can, in a short time, buy his own tools and no 
longer be forced to borrow. 

Although our present system of business is vastly complicated, and 
we sometimes seem to borrow money merely, the actual transaction being 
kept out of sight, yet the case supposed is the real basis of all just pay- 
ment of interest. I believe there will be a state of society in which 
money will not be necessary, but that state cannot be built up by com- 
mencing at the top. We must build from the foundation, understanding 
things as they are as well as knowing how they ought to be. 

The question is asked — and it is a very important one, and, simple as 
it is dt bottom, a complex one as it stands — What is money? It would 
simplify this matter very much if all would agree to call coin, or money 
having value as merchandise, money, and paper, or representative 
money, currency, or notes. It is plain that the representative money is 
that which must be and is principally used in this country and in all com- 
mercial countries. Coin money derives its real value in exchange, and 
as a measure for the exchangeable value of other products, from the _ 
fact that it costs labor to produce it ; and, although government laws 
may foolishly try to make it pass for more than its cost value, they 
never succeed in doing so. No government ever has succeeded in over- 
riding natural law, though they may and often do obstruct the operations 
of Nature's laws to the great detriment of Nature's children. 

The simplest form of representative money, or currency, is fur- 
nished by Josiah Warren's labor note, which was substantially as follows 
(I quote from memory) : 

For value received, I promise to pay bearer, on demand, one hour's labor, 
or ten pounds of corn. 

Josiah Warren. 
Modern Times, July 4, 1852. 

So long as it was believed by his neighbors that the maker of such 
notes always had the corn on hand with which to redeem them (since 
their redemption in labor would rarely be practicable or desirable), they 
would pass current in that locality ; and, in fact, such " labor notes " 
did pass to a limited extent at Modern Times. Interesting as that ex- 
periment was, and showing clearly, as it does, the principle at the basis 
of all good currency, it could not be extended so as to satisfy the needs 
of a great commercial country, or, safely, of a large neighborhood. 

But a currency, to be good, must possess precisely the qualifications 
and qualities of that labor note, with the addition of a guaranty, uni- 
versally recognizable, that the notes actually do represent solid wealth 
with which they will be redeemed on demand. Now, there is one thitig, 
and only one, that government can rightfully or usefully do in the way 
of interference with the currency, the ebb and flow of which is governed 
by natural laws altogether out of the reach of State or national govern- 
ments ; and that is to issue all the notes used foi currency on such 
terms that it shall be universally known truly to represent actual, mov- 
able capital (not land, which is not properly in the true sense, and which 
cannot be carried off by any one wishing a note redeemed), pledged for 


its redemption. There should be no monopoly, but any and every per- 
son complying with the terms should be furnished with the national note. 
Of course, no one who had not the requisite capital could procure these 
notes, and rightly so, because notes made by those who have no capital 
would swindle the people. And, as our government has no property or 
capital, except the necessary tools for carrying on the affairs of the 
nation, and as government should have no debts and no gold and silver 
accumulated, it is obvious that it cannot properly make a good note be- 
yond the amount which could be redeemed in payment of taxes. And, 
as taxes ought to be diminished and ultimately abolished, there is no valid 
basis for a government note to be used as currency. Neither will Mu- 
tual Banks answer any good purpose if the notes are based on land. 


The remarks that follow are not intended to debar " Apex " 
from answering his opponent in his own time and way, but 
simply to combat, from Liberty's standpoint, such of the posi- 
tions taken by "Basis" as seem to need refutation. 

The first error into which " Basis " falls is his identification 
of money with capital. Representative money is not capital ; 
it is only a title to capital. He who borrows a paper dollar 
from another simply borrows a title. f Consequently he takes 
from the lender nothing which the lender wishes to use ; unless, 
indeed, the lender desires to purchase capital with his dollar, 
in which case he will not lend it, or, if he does, will charge 
for the sacrifice of his opportunity, — a very different thing from 
usury, which is payment, not for the lender's sacrifice, but 
for the borrower's use; that is, not for a burden borne, but for a 
benefit conferred. Neither does the borrower of the dollar take 
from the person of whom he purchases capital with it anything 
which that person desires to use ; for, in ordinary commerce, 
the seller is either a manufacturer or a dealer, who produces 
or buys his stock for no other purpose than to sell it. And 
thence this dollar goes on transferring products for which the 
holders thereof have no use, until it reaches its issuer and 
final redeemer and is cancelled, depriving, in the course of its 
journey, no person of any opportunity, but, on the contrary, 

* It is interesting to note that " Basis," abandoning later the theory 
of interest maintained by him in the above article, took the initiative in 
the formation of a society for the abolition of interest, and now considers 
such abolition essential to the solution of the social problem. 

f Nevertheless, to everybody but the issuer, representative money is 
capital to all intents and purposes, because it will procure capital. But 
to the issuer it is not capital, because he issues it against security belong- 
ing not to himself but to the borrower, would not be able to issue it were 
it not for such security, and therefore parts with nothing in issuing it. 
Now the idea that money is capital does not sustain the position of 
" Basis," unless it be taken to mean that money is capital to the issuer. 


serving the needs of all through whose hands it passes. Hence 
borrowing a title to capital is a very different thing from 
borrowing capital itself. But under the system of organized 
credit contemplated by " Apex " no capable and deserving 
person would borrow even a title to capital. The so-called 
borrower would simply so change the face of his own title as 
to make it recognizable by the world at large, and at no other 
expense than the mere cost of the alteration. That is to say, 
the man having capital or good credit, who, under the system 
advocated by " Apex," should go to a credit-shop — in other 
words, a bank — and procure a certain amount of its notes by 
the ordinary processes of mortgaging property or getting 
endorsed commercial paper discounted, would only exchange 
his own personal credit — known only to his immediate friends 
and neighbors and the bank, and therefore useless in trans- 
actions with any other parties — for the bank's credit, known 
and receivable for products delivered throughout the State, 
or the nation, or perhaps the world. And for this convenience 
the bank would charge him only the labor-cost of its service 
in effecting the exchange of credits, instead of the ruinous 
rates of discount by which, under the present system of mo- 
nopoly, privileged banks tax the producers of unprivileged 
property out of house and home. So that "Apex" really 
would have no borrowing at all, except in certain individual 
cases not worth considering ; and, therefore, when " Basis," 
answering " Apex," says that " it is really capital that is 
borrowed, and not money," he makes a remark for which there 
is no audible call. 

The second error commited by " Basis " he commits in 
common with the economists in assuming that an increase of 
capital decreases the rate of interest and that nothing else can 
materially decrease it. The facts are just the contrary. The 
rate of interest may, and often does, decrease when the amount 
of capital has not increased ; the amount of capital may in- 
crease without decreasing the rate of interest, which may in 
fact increase at the same time ; and so far from the univer- 
salization of wealth being the sole means of abolishing interest, 
the abolition of interest is the sine qua non of the universaliza- 
tion of wealth. 

Suppose, for instance, that the banking business of a nation 
is conducted by a system of banks chartered and regulated by 
the government, these banks issuing paper money based on 
specie, dollar for dollar. If now a certain number of these 
banks, by combining to buy up the national legislature, should 
secure the exclusive privilege of issuing two paper dollars for 


each specie dollar in their vaults, could they not afford to, and 
would they not in fact, materially reduce their rate of discount ? 
Would not the competing banks be forced to reduce their 
rate in consequence ? And would not this reduction lower the 
rate of interest throughout the nation ? Undoubtedly; and yet 
the amount of capital in the country remains the same as 

Suppose, further, that during the following year, in conse- 
quence of the stimulus given to business and production by 
this decrease in the rate of interest and also because of 
unusually favorable natural conditions, a great increase of 
wealth occurs. If then the banks of the nation, holding 
from the government a monopoly of the power to issue money, 
should combine to contract the volume of the currency, could 
they not, and would they not, raise the rate of interest thereby ? 
Undoubtedly ; and yet the amount of capital in the country is 
greater than it ever was before. 

But suppose, on the other hand, that all these banks, 
chartered and regulated by the government and issuing money 
dollar for dollar, had finally been allowed to issue paper be- 
yond their capital based on the credit and guaranteed capital of 
their customers ; that their circulation, thus doubly secured, 
had become so popular that people preferred to pay their debts 
in coin instead of bank-notes, thus causing coin to flow into 
the vaults of the banks and add to their reserve ; that this 
addition had enabled them to add further to their circulation, 
until, by a continuation of the process, it at last amounted 
to eight times their original capital ; that by levying a high 
rate of interest on this they had bled the people nigh unto 
death ; that then the government had stepped in and said to 
the banks: "When you began, you received an annual interest 
of six per cent, on your capital ; you now receive nearly that 
rate on a circulation eight times your capital based really on 
the people's credit ; therefore at one-eighth of the original rate 
your annual profit would be as great as formerly ; henceforth 
your rate of discount must not exceed three-fourths of one per 
cent." Had all this happened (and with the exception of the 
last condition of the hypothesis similar cases have frequently 
happened), what would have been the result ? Proudhon shall 
answer for us. In the eighth letter of his immortal discussion 
with Bastiat on the question of interest he exhausts the whole 
subject of the relation bf interest to capital ; and " Basis " can- 
not do better than read the whole of it. A brief extract, how- 
ever, must suffice here. He is speaking of the Bank of France, 
which at that time (1849) ^^^ actually in almost th^ same 


situation as that described above. Supposing, as we have just 
done after him, a reduction of the rate of discount to three- 
fourths of one per cent., he then asks, as we do, what the 
result would be. These are his words in answer to Bastiat, 
the " Basis " of that discussion : 

The fortune and destiny of the country are to-day in the hands of the 
Banli of France. If it mould relieve industry and commerce by a de- 
crease of its rate of discount proportional to the increase of its reserve ; 
in other words, if it would reduce the price of its credit to three-fourths 
of one per cent., which it must do in order to quit stealing, — this reduc- 
tion would instantly produce, throughout the Republic and all Europe, 
incalculable results. They could not be enumerated in a volume ; I will 
confine myself to the indication of a few. 

If, then, the credit of the Bank of France should be loaned at three- 
fourths of one per cent., ordinary bankers, notaries, capitalists, and even 
the stockholders of the bank itself would be immediately compelled by 
competition to reduce their interest, discount, and dividends to at least 
one per cent., including incidental expenses and brokerage. What harm, 
think you, would this reduction do to borrowers on personal credit, or to 
commerce and industry, who are forced to pay, by reason of this fact 
alone, an annual tax of at least two thousand millions ? 

If financial circulation could be effected at a rate of discount represent- 
ing only the cost of administration, drafting, registration, etc., the inter- 
est charged on purchases and sales on credit would fall in its turn from 
six per cent, to zero, — that is to say, business would then be transacted 
on a cash basis ; there would be no more debts. Again, to how great a 
degree, think you, would that diminish the shameful number of suspen- 
sions, failures, and bankruptcies? 

But, as in society net product is undistinguishable from raw product, 
so in the light of the sum total of economic facts CAI'ITAL is undistin- 
guishable from PRODUCT. These two terms do not, in reality, stand for 
two distinct things ; they designate relations only. Product is capital ; 
capital is product : there is a difference between them only in private 
economy; none whatever in public economy. If, then, interest, after 
having fallen in the case of money to three-fourths of one per cent., — 
that is, to zero, inasmuch as three-fourths of one per cent, represents 
only the service of the bank, — should fall to zero in the case of merchan- 
dise also, by analogy of principles and facts it would soon fall to zero in 
the case of real estate ; rent would disappear in becoming one with liqui- ' 
dation. Do you think, sir, that that would prevent people from living 
in houses and cultivating land ? 

If, thanks to this radical reform in the machinery of circulation, labor 
was compelled to pay to capital only as much interest as would be a just 
reward for the service rendered by the capitalist, specie and real estate 
being deprived of their reproductive properties and valued only as pro- 
ducts,— d^s things that can be consumed and replaced, — the favor with 
which specie and capital are now looked upon would be wholly transferred 
to products ; each individual, instead of restricting his consumption, 
would strive only to increase it. Whereas, iX. present, thanks to the re- 
striction laid upon consumable products by interest, the means of con- 
sumption are always very much limited, then, on the contrary, produc- 
tion would be insufficient ; labor would then be secure in fapt a? wdl as 
in right, 


The laboring class gaining at one stroke the five thousand millions, or 
thereabouts, now taken in the form of interest from the ten thousand 
millions which it produces, plus five thousand millions which this same 
interest deprives it of by destroying the demand for labor, plus five 
thousand millions which the parasites, cut off from a living, would then 
be compelled to produce, the national production would be doubled and 
the welfare of the laborer increased fourfold. And you, sir, whom the 
worship of interest does not prevent from lifting your thoughts to an- 
other world, — what say you to this improvement of affairs here below? 
Do you see now that It is not the multiplication of capital which decreases 
interest, but, on the contrary, that it is the decrease of interest which 
multiplies capital? 

Now, this reduction of the rate of discount to the bank's 
service, and the results therefrom as above described, are pre- 
cisely vi^hat would happen if the whole business of banking 
should be thrown open to free competition. It behooves 
" Basis " to examine this argument well ; for, unless he can 
find a fatal flaw in it, he must stand convicted, in saying that 
" when the accumulated wealth of the world becomes large 
enough, no one will pay interest," of putting the cart before 
the horse. 

"Basis " is in error a third time in assuming that "Apex " 
wishes to " forbid the man of ability, but lacking means, using 
his credit." It is precisely because such men are now virtu- 
ally prohibited from using their credit that " Apex," and Ztd- 
erty with him, complains. This singular misconception on the 
part of " Basis " indicates that he does not yet understand 
what he is fighting. 

The fourth error for which " Basis " assumes responsibility 
is found in his statement that " in the last analysis the pos- 
sessor of capital has acquired it by a willingness to work 
harder than his fellows and to sacrifice his love of spending all 
he produces that he may have the aid of capital to increase 
liis power of production." A man who thoroughly means to 
tell the truth here reiterates one of the most devilish of the 
many infernal lies for which the economists have to answer. 
It is indeed true that the possessor of capital may, in rare 
cases, have acquired it by the method stated, though even 
then he could not be excused for making the capital so ac- 
quired a leech upon his fellow-men. But ninety-nine times in 
a hundred the modern possessor of any large amount of cap- 
ital has acquired it, not " by a willingness to work harder than 
his fellows," but by a shrewdness in getting possession of a 
monopoly which makes it needless for him to do any ri?a/work 
at all ; not by a willingness " to sacrifice his love of spending 
ail he produces," but by a cleverness in procuring frprn the 


government a privilege by which he is able to spend in wanton 
luxury half of what a large number of other men produce. 
The chief privilege to which we refer is that of selling the 
people's credit for a price. 

" Basis " is guilty of several other errors which we have not 
space to discuss at length. He supposes that to confine the 
term money to coin and to call all other money currency would 
simplify matters, when in reality it is the insistence upon this 
false distinction that is the prevailing cause of mystification. 
If the idea of the royalty of gold and silver could be once 
knocked out of the people's heads, and they could once un- 
derstand that no particular kind of merchandise is created by 
nature for monetary purposes, they would settle this question 
in a trice. Again, he seems to think that Josiah Warren based 
his notes on corn. Nothing of the kind. Warren simply took 
corn as his standard, but made labor and all its products his 
basis. His labor notes were rarely redeemed in corn. If he 
had made corn his exclusive basis, there would be no distinc- 
tion in principle between him and the specie men. Perhaps 
the central point in his monetary theory was his denial of the 
idea that any one product of labor can properly be made the 
only basis of money. To quote him in this connection at all 
is the height of presumption on the part of " Basis." A charge 
that his system, which recognized cost as the only ground of 
price, even contemplated a promise to pay anything "for value 
received," he would deem the climax of insult to his memory. 
"Basis," in donning the garments of Josiah Warren to defend 
the specie fraud, has " stolen the livery of heaven to serve the 
devil in." " Basis " is wrong, too, in thinking that land is not 
a good basis for currency. True, unimproved vacant land, 
not having properly a market value, cannot properly give value 
to anything that represents it ; but permanent improvements 
on land, which should have a market value and carry witlf 
them a title to possession, are an excellent basis for currency. 
It is not the raw material of any product that fits it for a basis, 
but the labor that has been expended in shaping the material. 
As for the immovability of land unfitting it for a basis, it has 
just the opposite effect. Here "Basis" is misled by the idea 
that currency can be redeemed only in that on which it is based. 

But this fertile subject has taken us farther than we intended 
to follow it. So here, for the present, we will quit its com- 
pany, meanwhile handing over " Basis" to the tender mercies 
of "Apex," and heartily indorsing almost all that "Basis" 
says at the close of his article concerning the true duty of 
government, as long as it ?hall exist, regarding the currency. 



[Liiirty^ October 13, 188S.] 

John Ruskin, in the first of his "Fors Clavigera" series of 
letters to British workmen, opened what he had to say about 
interest by picturing what he called "the position of William." 
Bastiat, the French economist, had tried to show the nature 
of capital and interest by a little story, in which a carpenter 
named James made a plane in order to increase his productive 
power! but, having made it, was induced by a fellow-carpenter 
named William to lend it to him for a year in consideration of 
receiving a new plane at the end of that time besides a plank 
for the use of it. Having fulfilled these conditions at the end 
of the first year, William borrowed the plane again on the 
same terms at the beginning of the second, and year after year 
the transaction was repeated to the third and fourth genera- 
tions of the posterity of William and James. Ruskin disposed 
of this plausible story in a sentence by pointing out that the 
transactions of William and James amounted simply to this,— 
that William made a plane every 31st December, lent it to 
James till ist January, and paid James a plank for the priv- 
ilege of thus lending him the plane overnight. 

Ruskin called this " the position of William," and, though 
he threw down the gauntlet right and left, he never could find 
an economist rash enough to undertake to dispute the justice 
of his abridgment of Bastiat's tale. At last, however, one 
has appeared. F. J. Stimson has discovered the fallacy in 
" the position of William," and confidently tells the readers of 
the Quarterly Journal of Economics that it lies in Ruskin's 
tacit assumption that the plank which William paid James was 
the only plank which the plane had enabled him to make 
during the year. Mr. Stimson is so proud of this discovery 
that he puts it in italics, but I am unable to see that it shows 
anything except Mr. Stimson's failure to get down to the kernel 
of the question at issue. 

If Ruskin made the assumption attributed to him, — which is 
improbable, — he did so because he knew perfectly well that the 
number of planks which the plane enabled William to make 
ought in equity to have had no influence upon the plane's sell- 
ing or lending price, always provided the number was great 
enough to make it worth while to have manufactured the plane 
in the first place. If Mr, Stimson were half the economigt 


that Ruskin is, he would know that, in the absence of monop- 
oly, the price of an article worth producing at all is governed, 
not by its utility, but by the cost of its production, and that 
James consequently, though his plane should enable William 
to make a million planks, could not sell or lend it for more 
than it cost him to make it, except he enjoyed a monopoly of 
the plane-making industry. 

The fallacy in "the position of William " remains undiscov- 
ered. Perhaps a few more such failures to discover it as Mr. 
Stimson's may convince the people that there is no fallacy 
there to be discovered. On the whole, the original policy of 
James's friends was the safer one, — to ignore " the position of 
William " on the ground that his champion, Mr. Ruskin,- is not 
an economist, but an artist. 


[Liierty, October 8, 1887.] 

It will be remembered that, when a correspondent of the 
Standard signing " Morris " asked Henry George one or 
two awkward questions regarding interest, and George tried 
to answer him by a silly and forced distinction between inter- 
est considered as the increase of capital and interest consid- 
ered as payment for the use of a legal tender, John F. Kelly 
sent to the Standard a crushing reply to George, which the 
latter refused to print, and which subsequently appeared in 
No. I02 of Liberty. It may also be remembered that George's 
rejection of Kelly's article was grounded on the fact that since 
his own reply to " Morris " he had received several articles on 
the interest question, and that he could not afford space for 
the consideration of this subordinate matter while the all-im- 
portant land question was yet to be settled. 

I take it that the land battle has since been won, for in the 
Standard of September 3 nearly three columns — almost the 
entire department of "Queries and Answers " in that issue — are 
given to a defence of interest, in answer to the questions of 
two or three correspondents. The article is a long elabora- 
tion of the reply to " Morris," the root absurdity of which is 
rendered more intangible by a wall of words, and no one 
would know from reading it that the writer had ever heard of 
the considerations which Mr. Kelly arrayed against his posi- 
tion. It is true that at one or two points he verges upon them, 


but his words are a virtual admission of their validity and 
hence a reduction of interest to an unsubstantial form. He 
seems, therefore, to have written them without thought of Mr. 
Kelly ; for, had he realized their effect, he could not — assum- 
ing his honesty — have prepared the article, which has no 
raison iTHre except to prove that interest is a vital reality 
apart from money monopoly. On the other hand, assuming 
his dishonesty, the suspicion inevitably arises that he pur- 
posely smothered Mr. Kelly's article in order to subsequently 
juggle over the matter with less expert opponents. Unhap- 
pily 'this suspicion is not altogether unwarrantable in view 
of the tactics adopted by George in his treatment of the rent 

The matter seems, too, to have taken on importance, as it is 
now acknowledged that " the theory of interest as propounded 
by Mr. George has been more severely and plausibly criticised 
than any other phase of the economic problem as he presents 
it." When we con>sider that George regards it as an economic 
law that interest varies inversely with so important a thing as 
rent, we see that he cannot consistently treat as unimpor- 
tant any " plausible " argument urged in support of the theory 
that interest varies principally, not with rent, but with the 
economic conditions arising from a monopoly of the currency. 

But, however the article may be accounted for, it is certainly 
before us, and Mr. George (through his sub-editor, Louis F. 
Post, for whose words in the " Queries and Answers " depart- 
ment he may fairly be held responsible), is discussing the in- 
terest question. We will see what he has to say. 

It appears that all the trouble of the enemies of interest 
grows out of their view of it as exclusively incidental to bor- 
rowing and lending, whereas interest on borrowed capital is 
itself " incidental to real interest," which is'" the increase that 
capital yields irrespective of borrowing and lending." This 
increase, Mr. George claims, is the work of time, and from 
this premise he reasons as follows: 

The laborer who has capital ready when it is wanted, and thus, by 
saving time in making it, increases production, will get and ought to get 
some consideration, — higher wages, if you choose, or interest, as we call it, 
— just as the skilful printer who sets fifteen hundred ems an hour will 
get more for an hour's work than the less skilful printer who sets only a 
thousand. In the one case greater power due to skill, and in the other 
greater power due to capital, produce greater results in a given time; and 
in neither case is the increased compensation a deduction from the earn- 
ings of other men. 

To make this analogy a fair one it must be assumed that 
skill is a product of labor, that it can be bought and sold, and 


that its price is subject to the influence of competition ; other- 
wise, it furnishes no parallel to capital. With these assump- 
tions the opponent of interest eagerly seizes upon the analogy 
as entirely favorable to his own position and destructive of 
Mr. George's. If the skilful printer produced his skill and 
can sell it, and if other men can produce similar skill and sell 
it, the price that will be paid for it will be limited, under free 
competition, by the cost of production, and will bear no rela- 
tion to the extra five hundred ems an hour. The case is pre- 
cisely the same with capital. Where there is free competition 
in the manufacture and sale of spades, the price of a spade 
will be governed by the cost of its production, and not by the 
value of the extra potatoes which the spade will enable its 
purchaser to dig. Suppose, however, that the skilful printer 
enjoyed a monopoly of skill. In that case, its price would no 
longer be governed by the cost of production, but by its util- 
ity to the purchaser, and the monopolist would exact nearly 
the whole of the extra five hundred ems, receiving which hourly 
he would be able to live for the rest of his life without ever 
picking up a type. Such a monopoly as this is now enjoyed 
by the holders of capital in consequence of the currency 
monopoly, and this is the reason, and the only reason, why 
they are able to tax borrowers nearly up to the limit of the 
advantage which the latter derive from having the capital. In 
other words, increase which is purely the work of time bears a 
price only because of monopoly. Abolish the monopoly, then, 
and what becomes of Mr. George's " real interest " except as 
a benefit enjoyed by all consumers in proportion to their con- 
sumption ? As far as the owner of the capital is concerned, it 
vanishes at once, and Mr. George's wonderful distinction with it. 

He tells us, nevertheless, that the capitalist's share of the 
results of the increased power which capital gives the laborer 
is " not a deduction from the earnings of other men." Indeed ! 
What are the normal earnings of other men ? Evidently what 
they can produce with all the tools and advantages which 
they can procure in a free market without force or fraud. If, 
then, the capitalist, by abolishing the free market, compels 
other men to procure their tools and advantages of him on less 
favorable terms than they could get befpre, while it may be 
better for them to come to his terms than to go without the 
capital, does he not deduct from their earnings ? 

But let us hear Mr. George further in regard to the great 
value of time to the idler. 

Suppose a natural spring free to all, and that Hodge carries a pail of 
water from it to a place where he can build a fire and boil the water. 

MONEY ANt) iNTEkfiST. 26^ 

Having hung a kettle and poured the wate» into it, and arranged the fuel 
and started the fire, he has by his labor set natural forces at work in a 
certain direction ; and they are at work for him alone, because without 
his previous labor they would not be at work in that direction at all. Now 
he may go to sleep, or run off and play, or amuse himself in any way that 
he pleases ; and when an hour — a period of time — shall have elapsed, 
he will have, instead of a pail of cold water, a pot of boiling water. Is 
there no difference in value between that boiling water and the cold 
water of an hour before ? Would he exchange the pot of boiling water 
for a pail of cold water, even though the cold water were in the pot and 
the fire started? Of course not, and no one would expect him to. And 
yet between the time when the fire is started and the time when the wa- 
ter boils he does no work. To what, then, is that difference in value due ? 
Is it not clearly due to the element of time? Why does Hodge demand 
more than a pail of cold water for the pot of boiling water if it is not that 
the ultimate object of his original labor — the making of tea,for example — 
is nearer complete than it was an hour before, and that an even exchange 
of boiling water for cold water would delay him an hour, to which he will 
not submit unless he is paid for it? And why is Podge willing to give 
more than a pail of cold water for the pot of boiling water, if it is not 
that it gives him the benefit of an hour's time in production, and thus in- 
creases his productive power very much as greater skill would ? And if 
Podge gives to Hodge more than a pail of cold water for the pot of boil- 
ing water, does Podge lose anything that he had, or Hodge gain anything 
that he had not ? No. The effect of the transaction is a transfer for a 
consideration of the advantage in point of time that Hodge had, to Podge 
who had it not, as if a skilful compositor should, if he could, sell his skill 
to a less skilful member of the craft. 

We will look a little into this economic Hodge-Podge. 

The illustration is vitiated from beginning to end by the 
neglect of the most important question involved in it, — name- 
ly, whether Hodge's idleness during the hour required for the 
boiling of the water is a matter of choice or of necessit)'. It 
was necessary to leave this out in order to give time the credit 
of boiling the water. Let us not leave it out, and see what 
will come of it. If Hodge's idleness is a matter of necessity, 
it is equivalent, from the economic standpoint, to labor, and 
counts as labor in the price of the boiling water. A store- 
keeper may spend only five hours in waiting on his customers, 
but, as he has to spend another five hours in waiting for them, 
he gets paid by them for ten hours' labor. His five hours' 
idleness counts as labor, because, to accommodate his cus- 
tomers, he has to give up what he could produce in those 
five hours if he could labor in them. Likewise, if Hodge, 
when boiling water for Podge, is obliged to spend an hour in 
idleness, he will charge Podge for the hour in the price which 
he sets on the boiling water. But it is Hodge himself, this 
disposition of himself, and not the abstraction, time, that 
gives the water its exchangeable value. The abstraction, time, 

S04 insteaB of a IBOOK. 

is as truly at work when Hodge is bringing the water froiti the 
spring and starting the fire as when he is asleep waiting for 
the water to boil ; yet Mr. George would not dream of at- 
tributing the value of the water af^er it had been brought 
from the spring to the element of time. He would say that it 
was due entirely to the labor of Hodge. Properly speaking, 
time does not work at all, but, if the phrase is to be insisted 
on. in economic discussion, it can be admitted only with some 
such qualification as the following : The services of time are 
venal only when rendered through human forces ; when ren- 
dered exclusively through the forces of nature, they are gratui- 

That time does not give the boiling water any exchangeable 
value becomes still more evident when we start from the 
hypothesis that Hodge's idleness, instead of being a matter 
of necessity, is a matter of choice. In that case, if Hodge 
chooses to be idle, and still tries, in selling the boiling water 
to Podge, to charge, him for this unnecessary idleness, the 
enterprising Dodge will step up and offer boiling water to 
Podge at a price lower than Hodge's, knowing that he can ■ 
afford to do so by performing some productive labor while 
waiting for the water to boil, instead of loafing like Hodge. 
The effect of this will be that Hodge himself will go to work 
productively, and then will offer Podge a better bargain than 
Dodge has proposed, and so competition between Hodge and 
Dodge will go on until the price of the boiling water to Podge 
shall fall to the value of the labor expended by either Hodge 
or Dodge in bringing the water from the spring and starting 
the fire. Here, then, the exchangeable value of the boiling 
water which was said to be due to time has disappeared, and 
yet it takes just as much time to boil the wa.ter as it did in 
the first place. 

Mr. George gets into difficulty in discussing this question of 
the increase of capital simply because he continually loses 
sight of the fact that competition lowers prices to the cost of 
production and thereby distributes this so-called product of 
capital among the whole people. He does not see that capital 
in the hands of labor is but the utilization of a natural force 
or opportunity, just as land is in the hands of labor, and that 
it is as proper in the one case as in the other that the benefits 
of such utilization of natural forces should be enjoyed by the 
whole body of consumers. 

Mr. George truly says that rent is the price of monopoly. 
Suppose, now, that some one should answer him thus : You 
misconceive ; you clearly have leasing exclusively in mind, 

UoneY and interest. 205 

and suppose an unearned bonus for a lease, whereas rent of 
leased land is merely incidental to real rent, which is the 
superiority in location or fertility of one piece of land over 
another, irrespective of leasing. Mr. George would laugh at 
such an argument if offered in justification of the receipt and. 
enjoyment of unearned increment or economic rent by the 
landlord. But he himself makes an equally ridiculous and 
precisely parallel argument in defence of the usurer when he 
says, in answer to those who assert that interest is the price of 
monopoly : " You misconceive ; you clearly have borrowing 
and lending exclusively in mind, and suppose an unearned 
bonus for a loan, whereas interest on borrowed capital is 
merely incidental to real interest, which is the increase that 
capital yields, irrespective of borrowing and lending." 

The truth in both cases is just this, — that nature furnishes 
man immense forces with which to work in the shape of land 
and capital, that in a state of freedom these forces benefit 
each individual to the extent that he avails himself of them, 
and that any man or class getting a monopoly of either or 
both will put all other men in subjection and live in luxury 
on the products of their labor. But to justify a monopoly of 
either of these forces by the existence of the force itself, or to 
argue that without a monopoly of it any individual could get 
an income by lending it instead of by working with it, is 
equally absurd whether the argument be resorted to in the 
case of land or in the case of capital, in the case of rent or in 
the case of interest. If any one chooses to call the advantages 
of these forces to mankind rent in one case and interest in the 
other, I do not know that there is any serious objection to his 
doing so, provided he will remember that in practical economic 
discussion rent stands for the absorption of the advantages of 
land by the landlord, and interest for the absorption of the 
advantages of capital by the usurer. 

The remainder of Mr. George's article rests entirely upon 
the time argument. Several new Hodge-Podge combinations 
are supposed by way of illustration, but in none of them is 
there any attempt to justify interest except as a reward of 
time. The inherent absurdity of this justification having been 
demonstrated above, all that is based upon it falls with it. 
The superstructure is a logical ruin ; it remains only to clear 
away the dSbris. 

Hodge's boiling water is made a type of all those products 
of labor which afterwards increase in utility purely by natural 
forces, such as cattle, corn, etc.; and it may be admitted that, 
if time would add exchangeable value to the water while boil- 


ing, it would do the same to corn while growing, and cattle 
while multiplying. But that it would do so under freedom 
has already been disproved. Starting from this, however, an 
attempt is made to find in it an excuse for interest on products 
which do not improve except as labor is applied to them, and 
even on money itself. Hodge's grain, after it has been grow- 
ing for a month, is worth more than when it was first sown ; 
therefore Podge, the shovel-maker, who supplies a market 
which it takes a month to reach, is entitled to more pay for 
his shovels at the end of that month than he would have been 
had he sold them on the spot immediately after production ; 
and therefore the banker who discounts at the time of produc- 
tion the note of Podge's distant customer maturing a month 
later, thereby advancing ready money to Podge, will be en- 
titled, at the end of the month, from Podge's customer, to 
the extra value which the month's time is supposed to have 
added to the shovels. 

Here Mr. George not only builds on a rotten foundation, 
but he mistakes foundation for superstructure. Instead of 
reasoning from Hodge to the banker he should have reasoned 
from the banker to Hodge. His first inquiry should have been 
how much, in the absence of a monopoly in the banking 
business, the banker could get for discounting for Podge 
the note of his customer ; from which he could then have 
ascertained how much extra payment Podge could get for his 
month's delay in the shovel transaction, or Hodge for the 
services of time in ripening his grain. He would then have 
discovered that the banker, who invests little or no capital of 
his own, and, therefore, lends none to his customers, since the 
security which they furnish him constitutes the capital upon 
which he operates, is forced, in the absence of money mo- 
nopoly, to reduce the price of his services to labor cost, 
which the statistics of the banking business show to be much 
less than one per cent. As this fraction of one per cent, 
represents simply the banker's wages and incidental expenses, 
and is not payment for the use of capital, the element of 
interest disappears from his transactions. But, if Podge can 
borrow money from the banker without interest, so can Podge's 
customer ; therefore, should Podge attempt to exact from his 
customer remuneration for the month's delay, the latter would 
at once borrow the money and pay Podge spot cash. Further- 
more Podge, knowing this, and being able to get ready money 
easily himself, and desiring, as a good man of business, to suit 
his customer's convenience, would make no such attempt. So 
Podge's interest is gone as well as the banker's. Hodge, then, 


Is the only usurer left. But is any one so innocent as to 
suppose that Dodge, or Lodge, or Modge will long continue to 
pay Hodge more for his grown grain than his sown grain, after 
any or all of them can get land free of rent and money free 
of interest, and thereby force time to work for them as well 
as for Hodge. Nobody who can get the services of time 
for nothing will be such a fool as to pay Hodge for them. 
Hodge, too, must say farewell to his interest as soon as the 
two great monopolies of land and money are abolished. TAe 
rate of interest on money fixes the rate of interest on all other 
capital the production of which is subject to competition, and when 
the former disappears the latter disappears with it. 

Presumably to make his readers think that he has given due 
consideration to the important principle just elucidated, Mr. 
George adds, just after his hypothesis of the banker's transac- 
tion with Podge : 

Of course there is discount and discount. I am speaking of a legitimate 
economic banlcing transaction. But frequently bank discounts are nothing 
more than taxation, due to the choking up of free exchange, in conse- 
quence of which an institution that controls the common medium of ex- 
change can impose arbitrary conditions upon producers who must imme- 
diately use that common medium. 

The evident purpose of the word " frequently " here is to 
carry the idea that, when a bank discount is a tax imposed by 
monopoly of the medium of exchange, it is simply a some- 
what common exception to the general rule of " legitimate 
economic banking transactions." For it is necessary to have 
such a general rule in order to sustain the theory of interest 
on capital as a reward of time. The exact contrary, however, 
is the truth. Where money monopoly exists, it is the rule that 
bank discounts are taxes imposed by it, and when, in conse- 
quence of peculiar and abnormal circumstances, discount is 
not in the nature of a tax, it is a rare exception. The aboli- 
tion of money monopoly would wipe out discount as a tax 
and, by adding to the steadiness of the market, make the 
cases where it is not a tax even fewer than now. Instead of 
legitimate, therefore, the banker's transaction with Podge, 
being exceptional in a free money market and a tax of the or- 
dinary discount type in a restricted money, market, is illegiti- 
mate if cited in defence of interest as a normal economic 

In the conclusion of his article Mr. George strives to show 
that interest would not enable its beneficiaries to live by the 
labor of others. But he only succeeds in showing, though in 
a very obscure, indefinite, and intangible fashion, — seemingly 


afraid to squarely enunciate it as a proposition, — that where 
there is no monopoly there will be little or no interest. 
Which is precisely our contention. But why, then, his long 
article ? If interest will disappear with monopoly, what will 
become of Hodge's reward for his time? If, on the other 
hand, Hodge is to be rewarded for his mere time, what will 
reward him save Podge's labor ? There is no escape from this 
dilemma. The proposition that the man who for time spent 
in idleness receives the product of time employed in labor is 
a parasite up on the body industrial is one arhich an expert 
necromancer like Mr. George may juggle with before an audi- 
ence of gaping Hodges and Podges, but can never successfully 
dispute with men who understand the rudiments of political 


{Liberty^ October j8, 1890.] 

AuBERON Herbert, in his paper, Free Life, asks me how I 
" justify a campaign against the right of men to lend and to 
borrow." I answer that I do not justify such a campaign, 
have never attempted to justify such a campaign, do not 
advocate such a campaign, in fact am ardently opposed to 
such a campaign. In turn, I ask Mr. Herbert how he justifies 
his apparent attribution to me of a wish to see such a cam- 
paign instituted. 

It is true that I expect lending and borrowing to disappear, 
but not by any denial of the right to lend and borrow. On the 
contrary, I expect them to disappear by virtue of the affirma- 
tion and exercise of a right that is now denied, — namely, the 
right to use one's own credit, or to exchange it freely for an- 
other's, in such a way that one or the other of these credits 
may perform the function of a circulating medium, without 
the payment of any tax for the privilege. It has been repeat- 
edly demonstrated in these columns that the exercise of such 
a right would accomplish the gradual extinction of interest 
without the aid of force, and the nature of this economic 
process has been described over and over again. This demon- 
stration Mr. Herbert steadily ignores, and the position itself 
he never meets save by a sweeping denial, or by characterizing 
it as unphilosophical, or by substituting for it a man of straw 
of his own creation and then knocking it down. 


The Anarchists assert that interest, however it may have 
originated, exists to-day only by virtue, of the legal monopoly 
of the use of credit, for currency purposes, and they trace the 
process, step by step, by which an abolition of that monopoly 
would gradually reduce interest to zero. Mr. Herbert never 
stops to analyze this process that he may find the weak spot 
in it and point it out ; he simply declares that interest, instead 
of resting on monopoly, is the natural, inevitable outcome of 
human convenience and the open market, and then wants to 
know how the Anarchists justify their attempt to abolish in- 
terest by force. 

It is as if Mr. Herbert were to maintain (as I suppose he 
does maintain) that freedom in the domestic relation would 
gradually lessen and perhaps abolish licentiousness, and I 
were to answer him thus : " Oh, no, Mr. Herbert, you are un- 
philosophical ; prostitution does not rest on the compulsory 
marriage system, but is the natural, inevitable outcome of 
human convenience and desire ; how do you justify, I should 
like to know, a campaign against the right of men and women 
to traffic in the gratifications of the flesh ? " In such a case 
Mr. Herbert, I imagine, would say that I had studied his 
teaching very carelessly. And that is what I am forced to say 
of him, much against my will. 

If it be true that interest will exist in the absence of mo- 
nopoly, then there is some flaw in the reasoning by which the 
Anarchists argue from the abolition of morfopoly to the disap- 
pearance of interest, and it is incumbent upon Mr. Herbert 
to point this flaw out, or else admit his own error. It is almost 
incredible that an argument so often reiterated can have es- 
caped the attention of so old a reader of Liberty as Mr. Her- 
bert, but, lest he should plead this excuse, I will state that it 
is most elaborately and conclusively set forth in the pamphlet, 
" Mutual Banking," by Col. Wm. B. Greene. If, after master- 
ing the position, he thinks he can overthrow it, I shall be glad 
to meet him on that issue. 


{^Liberiy^ November 29, 1890.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

I am sorry if I have misinterpreted Liberty. I have not what I wrote 
before me, but I do not think I could have had the slightest intention of im- 
puting to Liierty a FORCE campaign against interest ; but I believed (am I 

4l6 tNSTfiAB Of a BOOK. 

wrong ?) that I had seen both interest and rent denounced in Liberty as 
objectionable and opposed to the interests of society. It was to this 1 was 
referring as a moral campaign. My own position is that interest is both 
mora! and useful, and often more than anything e^se a chance of a better 
future to workmen. If workmen would give up punching the head of 
capital, and, instead of that little amusement, resolutely combine for the 
purpose of investing in industrial concerns, so as gradually to become the 
part-owner of the industrial machinery of the country, whilst they no 
longer remained wholly dependent upon wages, but partly upon wages, 
partly upon the return 'of invested money, I believe the great problem of 
our time would be approaching its solution. 

As regards rent, I think that all Anarchists, including even sober-minded 
Liberty, use force to get rid of it. The doctrine of use-possession seems 
almost framed for this purpose. Even if it suits certain persons to sell me 
a hundred acres, and it suits me to buy it, and it suits other people to rent 
it from me, — as I understand. Liberty would not sanction the proceeding. 
We are all of us, in fact, to be treated as children, who don't know our 
own interests, and for whom somebody else is to judge. You may reply 
that under the Anarchist system no action would be taken to prevent such 
an arrangement ; only that no action would be taken to prevent the tenants 
from establishing themselves as proprietors and ignoring their rent owed 
to me. Good ; but then how do you justify the fact that there is a pro- 
posed machinery (local juries, etc.) to secure the possessor who holds 
under use-possession in his holding and to prevent his disturbance by 
somebody else? Put these two opposed treatments together, and it 
means to say that a certain body of men have settled for others a form in 
which they may hold property, and a form in which they may not. The 
desires and the conveniences of the persons themselves are set aside, and, 
as in old forms of government, a principle representing centralization and 
socialistic regulation obtains. Is this Anarchy ? 

AuBERON Herbert. 

Mr. Herbert's disclaimer is of course sufificient to establish 
the fact that he did not mean to charge me with an attempt to 
prohibit lending and borrowing. But I must remind him that 
the charge which he made against me he made also at the 
saine time against his correspondent, Mr. J. Armsden ; that 
Mr. Armsden interpreted it as I did and protested against its 
application to himself (though gratuitously allowing that it was 
justly applicable to me) ; and that Mr. Herbert made rejoin- 
der, if my memory serves me, that he had misunderstood 
Mr. Armsden. Now, I cannot see why Mr. Herbert should 
not admit in the same unqualified way that he misunderstood 
me, instead of suggesting that I misunderstood him. But this 
is of little consequence ; I am satisfied to call it a case of 
mutual misunderstanding. 

To avoid such misunderstanding in future, however, is of 
real importance ; and to that end I must further remind Mr. 
Herbert that, when I use the word right, I do so in one of two 
senses, which the context generally determines, — either in the 
moral sense of irresponsible prerogative, or in the social sense 


of accorded guarantee. Mr. Herbert, knowing that I am an 
Egoist, must be perfectly aware that it v/oiild be impossible 
for me to enter upon a moral campaign against any special 
right in the sense of irresponsible prerogative, for it is the 
Egoistic position either that no one has any rights whatever or 
— what amounts to the same thing — that every one has all 
rights. But it would be equally impossible for me to enter 
upon a moral campaign against a right in the sense of accorded 
guarantee, unless it were a case where I should consider myself 
justified, if it seemed expedient, in turning that moral cam- 
paign into a force campaign. For I could have no objection 
to any accorded guarantee save on the ground that the thing 
guaranteed was a privilege of invasion, and against invasion I 
am willing to use any weapons that will accomplish its destruc- 
tion, preferring moral weapons in all cases where they are 
effective, but willing to resort to those of physical force when- 
ever necessary. So Mr. Herbert is now duly cautioned not to 
charge me with maintaining, against any right whatever, a cam- 
paign which anything but expediency makes exclusively moral. 

To go now from the general to the particular. I could not 
engage in any sort of campaign against the right to lend and 
borrow, because I do not consider that right a privilege of in- 
Tasion. If, however, lending and borrowing should disappear 
in consequence of the overthrow of that form of invasion 
which consists of the monopoly of the right to issue notes as 
currency, that is not my affair. 

It is the contention of the Anarchists that lending and bor- 
rowing, and consequently interest, will virtually disappear when 
banking is made free. Mr. Herbert's only answer to this is 
that he considers interest moral and useful. Does he mean by 
this that that is moral and useful which will disappear under 
free competition ? Then why does he favor free competition ? 
Or does he deny that interest will so disappear? Then let him 
disprove the Anarchists' definite and succinct argument that 
it will. In my last article, to which his present article is a 
reply, I strongly invited him to do this, but as usual he ignores 
the invitation. Nevertheless he and all his Individualistic 
friends will have to meet us on that issue sooner or later, and 
he may as well face the music at once. 

Now, a word about rent. It is true that Anarchists, includ- 
ing sober-minded Liberty, 'do, in a sense, propose to get rid of 
ground-rent by force. That is to say, if landlords should try 
to evict occupants, the Anarchists advise the occupants to 
combine to maintain their ground by force whenever they see 
that they can do so successfully. But it is also true that the 


Individualists, including sober-minded Mr. Herbert, propose 
to get rid of theft by force. " Even if it suits certain persons 
to sell me " Mr. Herbert's overcoat, " and it suits me to buy it, 
and it suits other people to rent it from me — as I understand," 
Mr. Herbert " would not sanction the proceeding. We are all 
of us, in fact, to be treated as children, who don't know our 
own interests, and for whom somebody else is to judge." The 
Anarchists justify the use of machinery (local juries, etc.) to 
adjust the property question involved in rent just as the Indi- 
vidualists justify similar machinery to adjust the property ques- 
tion involved in theft. And when the Individualists so adjust 
the property question involved in theft, this " means to say that 
a certain body of men have settled for others a form in which 
they may hold property and a form in which they may not," 
regardless of " the desires and conveniences of the persons 

Yes, this is Anarchy, and this is Individualism. The trouble 
with Mr. Herbert is that he begs the question of property alto- 
gether, and insists on treating the land problem as if it were 
simply a question of buying and selling and lending and bor- 
rowing, to be settled simply by the open market. Here I meet 
him with the words of his more conservative brother in Indi- 
vidualism, Mr. J. H. Levy, editor of the Personal Rights 
Journal, who is trying to show Mr. Herbert that he ought to 
call himself an Anarchist instead of an Individualist. Mr. 
Levy says, and I say after him : " When we come to the ques- 
tion of the ethical basis of property, Mr. Herbert refers us to 
' the open market.' But this is an evasion. The question is 
not whether we should be able to sell or acquire in 'the open 
market ■" anything which we rightfully possess, but how we 
come into rightful possession. And, if men differ on this, as 
they do most emphatically, how is this to be settled ?" 


[Liberty, August i8, 1888.I 

7'c the Editor of Liberty : 

During the past six months I have read your paper searchingly, and 
greatly admire it in many respects, but as yet do not grasp your theory 
of interest. Can you give space for a few words to show from your 
standpoint the fallacy in the following ideas? 

Interest I understand to be a payment, not for money, but for capital 
which the money represents ; that is, for the use of the accumulated 


wealth of the race. As that is limited, while human wants are infinite, 
it would appear that there will always be a demand for more than exists. 
The simplest way of solving the difficulty would, therefore, be to put the 
social capital up and let open competition settle its price. Added accu- 
mulation means greater competition to let it, so that its price will be low- 
ered year by year. But can that price ever become nothing so long as 
men have additional wants that capital can assist to fill ? Yet Mr. West- 
rup advocates a rate of interest based on the cost of issuing the money, 
— that is, allowing nothing for the capital. Is "stored labor" so plenty 
as to be cheaper than blackberries ? 

For illustration, A has |i,ooo worth of land, buildings, etc., in a farm, 
but sees that he can use $1,500 worth profitably. So he places a mort- 
gage of $500 on the place and invests it in more property. Now to say 
that he should have that additional property merely for the cost of issu- 
ing the paper which represents it during the transfer would be like saying 
that, when he bought his house, he should have it merely for cost of the 
transfer papers, — the deeds, etc., — paying nothing for the house itself. 

In a line my query is : Where do your definitions of interest and dis- 
count on money diverge? Yours truly, 

J. Herbert Foster. 
Meriden, Connecticut. 

Discount is the sum deducted in advance from property 
temporarily transferred, by the owner thereof, as a condition 
of the transfer, regardless of the ground upon which such 
condition is demanded. 

Interest is payment for the use of property, and, if paid in 
advance, is that portion of the discount exacted by the owner 
of the property temporarily transferred which he claims as 
payment for the benefit conferred upon the other party, as dis- 
tinguished from that portion which he claims as payment for 
the burden borne by himself. 

The opponents of interest desire, by reducing the rate of 
discount to cost, or price of burden borne, to thereby elimi- 
nate from discount all payment merely for benefit conferred. 

But they are entirely innocent of any desire to abolish pay- 
ment for burden borne, as it certain-l'y would be abolished in 
the case supposed by Mr. Foster, were A to obtain his extra 
$500 worth of property simply by paying the cost of making 
out the transfer papers. A certainly could not thus obtain it 
under the system of credit proposed by the opponents of inter- 
est. His obligation is not discharged when he has paid over 
to the man of whom he buys the property the $500 which he 
has borrowed on mortgage. He still has to discharge the 
mortgage by paying to the lender of the money, at the expira- 
tion of the loan, in actual wealth or valid documentary claim 
upon wealth, the $500 which he'borrowed. That is the time 
when he really pays for the property in which he invested. 
Now, the question is whether he shall pay simply the $500, 


which is supposed to represent the full value of the property 
at the time he made the investment, or whether he shall also 
pay a bonus for the use of the property up to the time when 
he finally pays for it. The opponents of interest say that he 
should not pay this bonus, because his use of the property has 
imposed no burden upon the lender of the money, and under 
free competition there is no price where there is no burden. 
They declare, not that he should not pay the $500, but that 
the only bonus he should pay is to be measured by the cost of 
making out the mortgage and other documents, including all 
the expenses incidental thereto. 

The only reason why he now has to pay a bonus propor- 
tional to the benefit he derives from the use of the property is 
found in the fact that the lender of the money, or the original 
issuer of the money, from whom the lender procured it more 
or less directly, has secured- a monopoly of money manufac- 
ture and can therefore proportion the price of his product to 
the necessities of his customers, instead of being forced by com- 
petition to limit it to the average cost of manufacture. In 
short, what the opponents of interest object to is, not payment 
for property purchased, but a. tax upon the transfer papers ; 
and the very best of all arguments against interest, or pay- 
ment for the use of property, is the fact that, at the present 
advanced stage in the operation of economic forces, it cannot 
exist to any great extent without taking this form of a tax 
upon the transfer papers. 

Shall the transfer papers be taxed ? That is the ques- 
tion which Liberty asks, and Mr. Foster has already answered 
it in the negative by saying that open competition should be 
left to settle the price of capital. But when this open compe- 
tition is secured, it will be found that, though there may be no 
limit to the desire for wealth, there is a limit at any given 
time to the capacity of the race to utilize capital, and that the 
amount of capital created will always tend to exceed this 
capacity. Then capital will seek employment and be glad to 
lend itself to labor for nothing, asking only to be kept intact, 
and reimbursed for the cost of the transfer papers. Such is 
the process by which interest, or payment for the use of prop' 
erty, not only will be lowered, but will entirely disappear. 



\Liberty, December i, 1888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

I have read attentively Mr. Westrup's farther statement on mutual 
banking, but fail to see wherein he touches what is to my mind the vital 
point. He says that the system " would not be making use of capital 
that belonged to some one else." Then I cannot see how it would an- 
swer its purpose. The bank itself has no capital save the pledges ad- 
vanced by borrowers, and if they take out no more than they put in, they 
make no gain, but are merely to the expense of the transaction. On 
the other hand, if they do take out more, some one else must have put it 
in. They do not increase their wealth by using their own property as a 
basis on which to make advances to themselves. It is only when some one 
else accepts it as a pledge on which to advance his property that they 
have made a gain. And if there is no one to be paid a dividend but " the 
same borrowers," that some one else will go unpaid. 

The borrower's object is to get the use of additional capital, not of the 
money that represents it during the transfer. If he gets it, "some one 
[else] is deprived of the use of that much wealth," as two cannot use the 
same property at the same time. Our farmer worth $1,000, who bor- 
rowed $500 and invested it, found at the end of the transaction that he 
had at his disposal $1,500 worth of property. Now, where did the last 
$500 worth come from ? Like all created things, its ownership vested 
rightfully in its creator ; the farmer was not that creator, or he would not 
have had to borrow it. The bank, in issuing a volume of circulating me- 
dium, neither increased nor diminished the aggregate wealth of the coun- 
try appreciably. It engaged in no "productive" industry. It did not 
create 500 dollars' nor 500 cents' worth of property. In fact, Mr. West- 
rup's rate of interest represents what it did create in additional value in 
making out the transfer papers, — a fraction of one per cent, of the $500. 
If, then, neither the bank nor the farmer created it, is it not clear that 
they " made use of capital that belonged to some one else " ? 

The distinction between owning property and merely having the use of 
it has been pointed out to me, but appears largely verbal, for the only 
value of property is the use thereof. At any rate, it seems clear that our 
farmer gets the use of $500 worth of properly so long as he pays the ex- 
pense of keeping $500 of circulating medium afloat. He uses his $1,000 
worth of property as a guarantee to the producer of the $500 of value 
that the latter shall receive back his property intact, but with no payment 
for use. 

If I have understood correctly the reply to my former letter, this is 
Liberty's idea ; but I do not see that Mr. Westrup coincides. However, 
if I am in error, I trust I am " open to conviction " and await further 

J. Herbert Foster. 

Mr. Foster's difficulty arises from the futile attempt, v\'hich 
many others have made before him, to distinguish money 
from capital, the real fact being that money, though not capi- 
tal in a, material sense, is, in the economic sense and to all in- 


tents and purposes, the most perfect and desirable form of 
capital, for the reason that it is the only form of capital which 
will at any time almost instantly procure all other forms of 
capital. Practically speaking, that man has capital who holds 
an instantly convertible title to capital.* 

If this be true, then Mr. Foster's claim that mutual bank- 
ing involves the " making use of capital that belongs to some 
one else " falls immediately. Does he mean to say that, when 
the borrower of a mutual bank's notes goes into the market 
and buys capital with them, he is thereljy keeping the seller 
out of his capital ? If so, then Mr. Foster, when he pays his 
butcher cash for a beefsteak for his to-morrow's breakfast, is 
keeping his butcher out of his capital. But does either he or 
his butcher ever look at his conduct in that light? If that is 
being kept out of capital, then is the butcher only too glad to 
be thus deprived. He keeps a shop for the express purpose 
of being kept out of his capital, and he feels that it's very 
hard lines and a very dull season when he isn't kept out of it. 
He knows that, when he sells a beefsteak to Mr. Foster for 
cash, he parts with capital for which he has no use himself 
and gets in exchange a title convertible whenever he may 
choose into such capital as he has use for, and he knows fur- 
ther that he greatly benefits by the transaction. The position 
of Mr. Foster's butcher is precisely parallel to that of the 
manufacturer of machinery who sells a plough or a press or 
an engine to a borrower from a mutual bank. Clearly, then, 
Mr. Foster's sympathy for this manufacturer is misplaced. 

Of course the position which I have just taken does not 
hold with notes that will not command capital, — that is, that 
are not readily received as money. But that is not the point 
under dispute. When Mr. Foster shall question the solvency 
of mutual money, I will meet him on that point also. For 
the present ray sole contention against him is that the man 
who exchanges a material value for good money is not thereby 
kept out of his capital. 

* This paragraph on the surface seems contradictory of the position 
taken on a previous page in answer to " Basis." And in form and 
terms it does contradict it. But a careful reading of both passages, in 
connection with the accompanying explanatory sentences, will show that 
there is no inconsistency between them. 



[Lz'deriy, July 26. 1890.] 

When I saw the word " Interest " at the top of an article in 
a recent issue of To-day, I said to myself: This looks prom- 
ising ; either the editor of To-day is about to remove the 
basis (so far as his paper is concerned) of Mr. Yarros's vigor- 
ous criticism upon journals of its class that they fail of influ- 
ence because they neglect to show that individualism will re- 
dress economic grievances, or else he has discovered some 
vital flaw in the Anarchist economics and is about to save us 
further waste of energy by showing that economic liberty will 
not produce the results we predict from it. Fancy my disap- 
pointment when, on reading the article, I found it made up, 
seven eighths, of facts and historical remarks which would be 
more-interesting if less venerable, but which, though pertinent 
as throwing light upon the conditions under which interest 
arose, prevailed, and fluctuated, have not the remotest bear- 
ing upon the arguments of those who dispute the viability of 
interest to-day ; one-sixteenth, of the assertion of an economic 
truism, equally without significance in connection with those 
arguments ; and, one-sixteenth, of the assertion of an economic 
error, which assertion betrays no familiarity with those argu- 
ments (although it is within my knowledge that the editor of 
To-day possesses such familiarity in a considerable degree), 
and which error can be sufficiently refuted by stating it in a 
slightly different form. 

The irrelevant facts I ignore. I do not care a copper 
whether interest was twelve per cent, in Aristotle's time or 
eighteen in Solon's ; whether Catholicism and Mohammedan- 
ism were united in their aversion to it ; whether Jew or Chris- 
tian has been the greater usurer. The modern opponents of 
interest are perfectly willing to consider facts tending to refute 
their position, but no facts can have such a tendency unless 
they belong to one of two classes : first, facts showing that 
interest has generally (not sporadically) existed in a commun- 
ity in whose economy money was as important a factor as it is 
with us to-day and in whose laws there was no restriction 
upon its issue; or, second, facts showing that interest is sus- 
tained by causes that would still be effectively, invincibly 
operative after the abolition of the banking monopoly. I do 
not find any such facts among those cited by To-day. The 
array is formidable in appearance only. Possession of encyclo- 


paedic knowledge is a virtue which Spencer sometimes exag- 
gerates into a vice, and a vice which some of his disciples too 
seldom reduce to the proportions of a virtue. 

To the economic truism I will give a little more attention, 
its irrelevancy being less apparent. Here it is : " The exist- 
ence of interest depends, of course, primarily upon the exist- 
ence of private property." I call this a truism, though the 
word " primarily " introduces an element of error. If we are 
to inquire upon what interesi J>rimari'fy depends, we shall start 
upon an endless journey into the realm of metaphysics. But 
without entering that realm we certainly can go farther back 
in the series than private property and find that interest 
depends still more remotely upon the existence of human 
beings and even of the universe itself. However, interest 
undoubtedly depends upon private property, and, if this fact 
had any significance, I should not stop to trifle over the word 
" primarily." But it has no significance. It only seems to 
have significance because it carries, or seems to be supposed 
to carry, the implication that, if private property is a necessary 
condition of interest, interest is a necessary result of private 
property. The inference, of course, is wholly unwarranted by 
logic, but that it is intended appears from a remark almost 
immediately following : " Expectations have been entertained 
that it [interest] will eventually become zero ; but this stage 
will probably be reached only when economic products become 
common free property of the human race." The word "prob- 
ably " leaves the writer, to be sure, a small logical loophole 
of escape, but it is not expected that the reader will notice it, 
the emphasis being all in the other direction. The reader is 
expected to look upon interest as a necessary result of private 
property simply because without private property there could 
be no interest. Now, my hat sometimes hangs upon a hook, 
and, if there were no hook, there could be no hanging hat ; 
but it by no means follows that because there is a hook there 
must be a hanging hat. Therefore, if I wanted to abolish 
hanging hats, it would be idle, irrelevant, and illogical to 
declare that I must first abolish hooks. Likewise it is idle, 
irrelevant, and illogical to declare that before interest can be 
abolished private property must be abolished. Take another 
illustration. If there were no winter, water-pipes would never 
freeze up, but it is not necessary to abolish winter to prevent 
this freezing. Human device has succeeded in preventing it 
as a general thing. Similarly, without private property there 
would be no borrowing of capital and therefore no interest ; 
but it is claimed that, without abolishing private property, a 


human device — namely, money and banking — will, if not re- 
stricted, prevent the necessity of borrowing capital as a gene- 
ral thing, and therefore virtually abolish interest ; though 
interest might still be paid in extraordinary cases, just as 
water-pipes still freeze up under extraordinary conditions. Is 
this claim true ? That is the only question. 

This claim is met in the single relevant sixteenth of To- 
day's article, — that already referred to as an economic error. 
But it is met simply by denial, which is not disproof. I give 
the writer's words : 

The most popular fallacy upon the subject now is that the rate of in- 
terest can be lowered by increasing the amount of currency. What men 
really wish to borrow usually is capital, — agencies of production, — and 
money is only a means for the transfer of these. The amount of cur- 
rency can have no effect upon the abundance of capital, and even an in- 
crease in the abundance of capital does not always lower the rate of 
interest; this is partly determined by the value of capital in use. 

This paragraph, though introduced with a rather nonchalant 
air, seems to have been the objective point of the entire article. 
All the rest was apparently written to furnish an occasion for 
voicing the excessively silly notion that " the amount of cur- 
rency can have no effect upon the abundance of capital." As 
I have already said, to show how silly it is-, it is only necessary 
to slightly change the wording of the phrase. Let it be stated 
thus : "The abolition of currency can have no effect upon the 
abundance of capital." Of course, if the former statement is 
true, the latter follows. But the latter is manifestly absurd, 
and hence the former is false. To affirm it is to affirm that 
currency does not facilitate the distribution of wealth ; for if 
it does, then it increases the effective demand for wealth, and 
hence the production of wealth, and hence the abundance 
of capital. It is true that " an increase in the abundance 
of capital does not always lower the rate of interest." An 
extra horse attached to a heavy load does not always move 
the load. If the load is heavy enough, two extra horses will 
be required to move it. But it is always the tendency of 
the first extra horse to move it, whether he succeeds or not. 
In the same way, increase of capital always tends to lower 
interest up to the time when interest disappears entirely. 
But though increased capital lowers interest and increased 
currency increases capital, increased currency also acts directly 
in lowering interest before it has increased the amount of 
capital. It is here that the editor of To-day seems to show 
unfamiliarity with the position of the opponents of interest. 
It is true that what men really wish to get is capital, — the 


agencies of production. And it is precisely because money 
is " a means for the transfer of these " that the ability to issue 
money secured by their own property would make it unneces- 
sary for them to borrow these agencies by enabling them to 
buy them. This raises a question which I have asked hun- 
dreds of times of defenders of interest and which has invari- 
ably proved a "poser." I will now put it to the editor of 
To-day. A is a farmer owning a farm. He mortgages his 
farm to a bank for $i,ooo, giving the bank a mortgage note 
for that . sum and receiving in exchange the bank's notes 
for the same sum, which are secured by the mortgage. With 
the bank-notes A buys farming tools of B. The next day B 
uses the notes to buy of C the materials used in the manufac- 
ture of tools. The day after, C in turn pays them to D in 
exchange for something that he needs. At the end of a year, 
after a constant succession of exchanges, the notes are in the 
hands of Z, a dealer in farm produce. He pays them to A, 
who gives in return fi,ooo worth of farm products which he 
has raised during the year. Then A carries the notes to the 
bank, receives in exchange for them his mortgage note, and 
the bank cancels the mortgage. Now, in this whole circle of 
transactions, has there been any lending of capital ? If so, 
who was the lender? If not, who is entitled to any interest ? 
I call upon the editor of To-day to answer this question. It 
is needless to assure him that it is vital. 


{^Liberty., August i6, 1890.] 

To-day's rejoinder to my criticism of its article on interest 
is chiefly remarkable as an exhibition of dust-throwing. In 
the art of kicking up a dust the editor is an expert. When- 
ever he is asked an embarrassing question, he begins to show 
his skill in this direction. He reminds one of the clown at 
the circus when "stumped" by the ring-master to turn a 
double somersault over the elephant's back. He prances and 
dances, jabbers and gyrates, quotes Latin forwards and Greek 
backwards, declaims in the style of Dr. Johnson to the fish- 
wife, sings algebraical formulae to the music of the band, 
makes faces, makes puns, and makes an excellent fool of him- 
self ; and when at the end of all this enormous activity he 
slyly slips between the elephant's legs instead of leaping over 


his back, the hilarious crowd, if it does not forget his failure 
to perform the prescribed feat, at least good-humoredly for- 
gives it. But I am not so good-natured. I admit that, as a 
clown, I find the editor interesting, but his performance, ap- 
propriate enough in a Barnum circus ring, is out of place in 
the economic arena. So I propose to ignore his three pages 
of antics and note only his ten-line slip between the elephant's 
legs, or, laying metaphor aside, his evasion of my question. 

I had challenged him to point out any lending of capital in 
a typical banking transaction which I had described. He re- 
sponds by asking me to define capital. This is the slip, the 
evasion, the postponement of the difficulty. He knows that, 
if he can draw me off into a discussion of the nature of capital, 
there will be an admirable opportunity for more clownishness, 
since there is no point in political economy that lends itself 
more completely to the sophist's art than this. But I am not 
to be turned aside. I stick to my question. In regard to the 
notion of capital the editor of To-day will find me, so far 
as the immediate question at issue is connected with it, the 
most pliable man in the world. I will take the definition, if 
he likes, that was given in the previous article in To-day. 
There it was said that money was one thing and capital an- 
other ; that capital consists of the agencies of production, 
while money is only a means for the transfer of these ; that 
what men really want is not money, but capital" ; that it is for 
the use of capital that interest is paid ; and that this interest, 
this price for the use of capital, lowers, generally speaking, as 
capital becomes plentier, and probably cannot disappear un- 
less abundance of capital shall reach the extreme of common 
property. Now I have shown (at least I shall so claim until 
my question is answered) that in the most ordinary form of 
transaction involving interest — namely, the discounting of 
notes — there is absolutely no lending of capital in the sense 
in which capital was used in To-day's first article, and the 
consequence, of course, is that that defence of interest which 
regards it as payment for the use of capital straightway falls to 
the ground. But if the editor of To-day does not like the 
view of capital that was given in the article criticised, he may 
take some other; I am perfectly willing. He may make a defi- 
nition of his own. Whatever it may be, I, for the time being 
and for the purposes of this argument, shall say " Amen " to it. 
And after that I shall again press the question whether, in the 
transaction which I described, there was any lending of any- 
thing whatever. And if he shall then answer, as a paragraph 
in his latest article indicates, " Yes, the bank lent its notes to 


the farmer," I shall show conclusively that the bank did 
nothing of the kind. If I successfully maintain this conten- 
tion, then it will be demonstrated that the interest paid in the 
transaction specified was not paid for the use of anything 
whatever, but was a tax levied by monopoly and nothing else. 

Meantime it is comforting to reflect that my labor has not 
been entirely in vain. As a consequence of my criticism 
of To-day's article on interest, the editor has disowned it 
(though it appeared unsigned and in editorial type), charac- 
terized it as "trivial" (heaven knows it had the air of grav- 
ity !), and squarely contradicted its chief doctrinal assertion. 
This assertion was that " the amount of currency can have no 
effect upon the abundance of capital." It is contradicted in 
these terms : " Evidently money is a necessary element in the 
existing industrial plexus, and increase of capital is dependent 
upon the supply of a sufficient amount of money." After this 
I have hopes. 


\Liherfy., May i6, i8gi.] 

In a letter to the London Herald of Anarchy, Mr. J. 
Greevz Fisher asserts that " government does not, and never 
can, fix the value of gold or any other commodity," and can- 
not even affect such value except by the slight additional de- 
mand which it creates as a consumer. It is true that govern- 
ment cannot fix the value of a commodity, because its in- 
fluence is but one of several factors that combine to govern 
value. But its power to affect value is out of all proportion to 
the extent of its consumption. Government's consumption of 
commodities is an almost infinitesimal influence upon value in 
comparison with its prohibitory power. One of the chief fac- 
tors in the constitution of value is, as Mr. Fisher himself states, 
utility ; and as long as governments exist, utility is largely de- 
pendent upon their arbitrary decrees. When government pro- 
hibits the manufacture and sale of liquor, does it not thereby 
reduce the value of everything that is used in such manufact- 
ure and sale ? If government were to allow theatrical per- 
formances on Sundays, would not the value of every building 
that contains a theatre rise ? Have not we, here in America, 
just seen the McKinley bill change the value of nearly every 
article that the people use ? If government were to decree 


that all plates shall be made of tin, would not the value of tin 
rise and the value of china fall ? Unquestionably. Well, a 
precisely parallel thing occurs when government decrees that 
all money shall be made of or issued against gold or silver ; 
these metals immediately take on an artificial, government- 
created value, because of the new use which arbitrary power 
enables them to monopolize, and all other commodities, which 
are at the same time forbidden to be put to this use, corre- 
spondingly lose value. How absurd, then, in view of these 
indisputable facts, to assert that government can affect values 
only in the ratio of its consumption ! And yet Mr. Fisher 
makes this assertion the starting-point of a lecture to the editor 
of the Herald of Anarchy delivered in that dogmatic, know- 
it-all style which only those are justified in assuming who 
can sustain their statements by facts and logic. 


[Liberty^ June 27, 1891.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

In reference to your remarks upon my recent contribution to the Lon- 
don Herald of Anarchy, dogmatism of manner must often be adopted 
to avoid verbosity ; it is not necessarily an assumption of infallibility. 

The action of governments with regard to gold is not truly analogous 
in its economic effects to the prohibition of theatrical performances on 
Sunday. In the last-named case, or in any similar case which we may 
suppose, the effect is to diminish demand and to prolong or retard con- 
sumption. Thus, if we were prohibited from wearing shoes, boots, etc., 
on Sunday, or if every seventh person were prevented from using them, 
then boots which now wear out in six months would last seven months, 
and we may suppose theatres which now last seven years or seventy would 
then be worn out in six or sixty. The immediate effect of opening thea- 
tres on Sunday would probably be to increase their value very greatly; 
l)ut eventually others would be built, and competition would reduce the 
previously enhanced value. The residual enhancement of value would be 
that resulting from the increased expense of producing the last increment 
in the number of theatres which the market in its altered circumstances 
could support. There is good reason to doubt whether this would be ap- 
preciable in the cases taken of articles of considerable durability. If the 
government could reduce the consumption of food-stuffs, such as wheat, 
and simultaneously of all substitutes, by one-seventh, it would be a very 
different matter. 

But in the case of gold the interference of governments in the present 
day has little effect in increasing consumption. They do not collect it to 
consume it, but simply to sell it. In this country, beyond specifying this 
metal as the vehicle of value in contributing to the revenue, the interfer- 
ence appears to be limited to a restriction of the liberty of citizens to ex- 


change promises of delivery of gold to bearer on demand. Bank-notes 
(or bills, as they seem to be called in your country) may only be issued by 
certain bankers, and by them only in a certain complex relation to the 
amount of gold they hold. But this is only a restriction in form, and not 
in quantity, because checks, drafts, and promissory notes other than to 
bearer on demand are issuable in unlimited quantity, subject to certain 
taxes — from which the other notes are not wholly exempt — and are trans- 
ferable without further tax. What has this to do with the consumption of 
gold? Next to nothing! 

Now there is no legal obstacle, nothing, in fact, whatever except the in- 
conveniences of bulk, fluctuation of value, and other inherent defects, to 
prevent the introduction and circulation of promises of wheat, cotton, oil, 
iron, or other commodity. This would not have any material effect upon 
the consumption, production, cost, or value of these commodities. Spec- 
ulative sales of ' ' futures " tend on the whole to steady values and to 
diminish the frequency aud the intensity of gluts and famines. 

Gold and silver are not used (in the sense of being consumed) by their 
circulation. They are merely conveyed, transferred, and exchanged more 
frequently. The fact that they are so often bought by people who do not 
themselves require to use them is not unique. Every merchant does the 
same with the commodity to which he devotes his attention.* 

The peculiarity is that the trade in gold is familiar to every one. The 
portability, divisibility, and recognizability of this substance force it upon 
the attention of every one who avails himself of the services of others. 
The production and circulation of contracts for its future delivery are not 
unique. This is also done in the case of many other commodities. In both 
cases there is a very great convenience and economy ; and in both there is 
avery appreciable danger. Any such writings of individualists as may in 
any way give the impression that the free circulation of mutual indebt- 
edness, miscalled " mutual money," will be free from this element of 
danger are pernicious. Freedom to incur and to exchange debts is ex- 
ceedingly desirable, but rather because they will encourage, purify, and 
chasten the spirit of enterprise than that they will in themselves bring 
very noticeable economic gain. 

Apart from the wear and tear involved, neither the government nor any 
one else consumes one ha'penny worth more of gold by reason of its adop- 
tion in taxation and commerce as the most usual vehicle of value. Its use 
for this purpose may cause the world to hold a larger stock than it other- 
wise would; but this is in every way a benefit, because it steadies its Value. 
If the metal were neglected, as platinum was until recently, then famine 
and glut might be observed. This would greatly lower the utility of gold 
as an intermediate exchange commodity, and would not help us to devise a 
substitute. It would throw upon every trade, including those who sell their 
own labor, a burden of doubt and uncertainty in estimating its fluctua- 
tions. The evil that government does by collecting needless millions is 
immeasurably greater than by its so-called maintenance of the gold stan- 
dard. Yours respectfully, 

J. Greevz Fisher. 

78 Harrogate Road, Leeds, England. 

""■Division of labor originates in people making something they do not 
themselves want. It is further facilitated by selling this for one special 
commodity which is not directly wanted. 

MONEY An£) INTERESl'. 225 

Dogmatism can be justified only by the event. In its use 
not only does nothing succeed like success, but nothing suc- 
ceeds but success. And nothing fails like failure. If Mr. 
Fisher, in addressing the Anarchists upon finance as if they 
were babies and he a giant, shall succeed in making his 
assumed superiority felt as a reality, he will not only be for- 
given for his dogmatism, but highly respected for his knowl- 
edge and power ; but if it shall appear that the ignorance and 
weakness are on his side rather than theirs, he will be covered 
not only with confusion by his error, but with ridicule by the 
collapse of his pretension. It is only just, however, to say 
that a comparison of his letter to Liberty with his letter to 
the Herald of Anarchy shows progress in the direction of 

Already Mr. Fisher's pride has been followed by a fall. 
The central position taken by him at the start that govern- 
ment cannot affect the value of gold or any other commodity 
except by the slight additional demand which it creates as a 
consumer he has been forced to abandon at the first onslaught. 
If government were to allow the opening of theatres on Sun- 
day, it would not thereby become a consumer of theatres itself 
(at least not in the economic sense; for, in the United States 
at any rate, our governors always go to the theatre as " dead- 
heads "), and yet Mr. Fisher admits that in such a case the 
value of theatres would immediately rise very greatly. This 
admission is an abandonment of the position taken at first so 
confidently, and no other consideration can make it anything 
else. The fact that competition would soon arise to reduce 
the value does not alter the fact that for a time this action of 
government would materially raise it, which Mr. Fisher orig- 
inally declared an impossibility. But even if such a plea had 
any pertinence, it could be promptly destroyed by a slight ex- 
tension of the hypothesis. Suppose government, in addition 
to allowing the theatres now existing to open on Sunday, 
were to prohibit the establishment of any additional theatres. 
Then the value would not only go up, but stay up. It is 
hardly necessary to argue the matter further ; Mr. Fisher 
undoubtedly sees that he is wrong. The facts are too palpable 
and numerous. Why, since my comment of a month ago on 
Mr. Fisher's position, it has transpired that the cost of making 
twist drills in the United States has been increased five hundred 
and twenty per cent, by the McKinley bill. Government cannot 
affect value, indeed! 

In the paragraph to which Mr. Fisher's letter is a rejoinder 
I said that " when government decrees that all money shall 


be made of or issued against gold or silver, these metals imme- 
diately take on an artificial, government-created value, because 
of the new use which arbitrary power enables them to monop- 
olize." Mr. Fisher meets this by attempting to belittle the 
restrictions placed upon the issue of paper money, as if all 
vitally necessary liberty to compete with the gold-bugs were 
even now allowed. Let me ask my opponent one question. 
Does the law of England allow citizens to form a bank for the 
issue of paper money against any property that they may see 
fit to accept as security ; said bank perhaps owning no specie 
whatever ; the paper money not redeemable in specie except 
at the option of the bank; the customers of the bank mutually 
pledging themselves to accept the bank's paper in lieu of gold 
or silver coin of the same face value ; the paper being re- 
deemable only at the maturity of the mortgage notes, and 
then simply by a return of said notes and a release of the 
mortgaged property, — is such an institution, I ask, allowed by 
the law of England ? If it is, then I have only to say that the 
working people of England are very great fools riot to take 
advantage of this inestimable liberty, that the editor of the 
Herald of Anarchy and his comrades have indeed nothing to 
complain of in the matter of finance, and that they had better 
turn their attention at once to the organization of such banks as 
that which I have just described. But I am convinced that 
Mr. Fisher will have to answer that these banks are illegal in 
England; and in that case I tell him again that the present value 
of gold is a monopoly value sustained by the exclusive mone- 
tary privilege given it by government. It may be true, as Mr. 
Fisher says, that just as much gold would be used if it did not 
possess this monopoly. But that has nothing to do with the 
question. Take the illustration that I have already used in 
this discussion when I said: "If government were to decree 
that all plates shall be made of tin, would not the value of 
tin rise and the value of china fall?" Now, if the supply of 
tin were limited, and if nearly all the tin were used in making 
plates, and if tin had no other use of great significance, it is 
quite conceivable that, if the decree prohibiting the use of 
china in making plates should be withdrawn, the same amount 
of tin might continue to be used for the same purpose as 
before, and yet the value of tin would fall tremendously in 
consequence of the admitted competition of china. And sim- 
ilarly, if all property were to be admitted to competition with 
gold in the matter of representation in the currency, it is pos- 
sible that the same amount of gold would still be used as 


money, but its value would decrease notably, — would fall, 
that is to say, from its abnormal, artificial, government-created 
value, to its normal, natural, open-market value. 


]_Liberty^ July ti, 1891.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

It is much to be regretted when Liberty is wounded in the house of her 
friends. This is caused by those who regard liberty as a panacea for every 
ill, or perhaps it would be better to say who regard the inevitable vicissi- 
tudes and inequalities of life as evil. There is no more philosophical 
reason for believing that all men can be equal, rich, and happy than for 
believing that all animals can be equal, including, of course, that they 
should all be equal to men. 

Freedom is exceeding fair. It is by far the most excellent way. Under 
liberty the very best possible results in every department of human activ- 
ity, including commerce, will be obtained. But it won't make fools suc- 
cessful. One of its recommendations is that folly will more surely be 
remedied by getting its medicine than by the grandmotherly plan of pro- 
tection in all directions. In many cases cure is better than prevention. 
Little burns, we may be sure, save many lives, (i) 

It seems to be a fashion novfadays amongst reformers to rail at our 
existing systems of currency and to regard government interference here 
as greater and more pernicious than in many other matters. The truth, 
however, is that there is scarcely anything which more completely illus- 
trates the powerlessness of government to establish code in opposition to 
custom than the unvarying failure of unsound currency enactments, and 
the concomitant dwindling of monetary law into a mere specification of 
truisms, a registration of established practice, or a system of licensing 
certain individuals to carry on certain kinds of trade. But all these are 
evils not perculiar to the money trade, nor do they here produce more in- 
jurious results than in the cases of priests, doctors, accountants, lawyers, 
engineers, and other privileged faculties. (2) 

Schemes to bring about the abolition of interest, especially when the au- 
thors promulgate this as a necessary consequence of free trade in banking, 
are pernicious, and in their ultimate effect reactionary. Low rates of in- 
terest depend upon the magnitude of the mass of capital competing for in- 
vestment rather than upon the presence or absence of the really trifling in- 
terference of governments with the modes in which debt may be incurred. 
What is called free trade in banking actually means only unlimited liberty 
to create debt. It is the erroneous labelling of debt as money which be- 
gets most of the fallacies of currency-faddists, both coercionary and libera- 
tionist. (3) 

The principal error of the former is that they advocate schemes for the 
growth and preferential marketing of government debt. The ignis fatuus 
of some of the latter is a vision of people both using their property and 
pledging it at the same time ; (4) while some go so far as to dream of 
symbolical money of indefinite value. Thus we have Mr. Alfred B. 
^estrup contributing " Citizens' Money" and " The Finangial Problem, 


both of which tacitly attempt to expound a method to enable every one to 
get into debt and keep there. (5) 

The introduction to the first-named essay seems by implication to assert 
that the price of gold is too high, though no attempt is made to show how 
displacing it from currency would reduce the price as long as its cost and 
utility remain what they now are ; while the author himself appears to 
think that money can be made very much more plentiful and yet maintain 
its value, although he is contending that this value depends upon monop- 
oly or scarcity. The last-named essay plainly assumes that by some such 
scheme poverty can be abolished. (6) 

Banking is not the only financial operation in which government inter- 
feres. In the case of insurance companies, benefit societies, limited liabil- 
ity corporations, partnerships, trusts, insolvencies, and hundreds of other 
ways government is continually interfering. Most of this interference is 
well meant. Most, if not all, of it is actually injurious in itself, apart from 
the waste, the jobbery, and the imbecility of officialism it involves. These 
concomitant evils, though far greater than those directly resulting from 
the interference, had better for the time being be left out of sight. Their 
treatment belongs to the general subject of liberty, and they only incident- 
ally pertain to the financial interference of government, as they do to all 
its other interference. Ignoring then the saving in cost, the immediate 
effect of the total abstention of government from its protection of the pub- 
lic from financial folly and roguery would be that a great crop of fresh 
schemes, bargains, and arrangements would offer themselves to those de- 
sirous of entrusting any of their wealth to the management of others. A 
very large proportion of these schemes — possibly the majority — would be 
unsound. (7) Amongst the unsound, unless its expounders grievously 
misrepresent it, would undoubtedly be found such mutual banking as is 
proposed by Mr. Westrup. He is altogether on a wrong tack. His 
whole talk is about money; but this term in his mouth means indebtedness, 
trust, credit, paper instruments binding some one to deliver something. 
Now, credit is not a representative of wealth, as Mr. Westrup so con- 
stantly declares. Mr. Westrup's money is a representative of a promise 
or debt. It may in many cases, as a matter of history, show that A has 
entrusted certain wealth to B ; but it does not guarantee that B has pre- 
served it, and still less does it assure the holder that B can at call deliver or 
replace the borrowed articles, or any equal number of similar articles, or 
an equivalent value in some other articles. (8) As Mr. Donisthorpe insists 
in his " Principles of Plutology " (p. 136); " There is [at each moment] 
a certain amount of every valuable commodity in existence, neither more 
nor less ; nor can it be increased by a single atom though the whole pop- 
ulation suddenly, as if by inspiration, began craving and yearning for it." 
(9) Again, what is there to show that any necessity exists, as Mr. West- 
rup asserts, for enabling all wealth to be represented by money ? If I give a 
man a loaf for sweeping my door-step, the loaf does not represent the 
work, nor does the work represent the loaf. All we know is that I desire 
the sweeping more than I desire the loaf, and the laborer desires the loaf 
more than his ease or idleness. If I give a guinea for a hat, this guinea 
does not represent the particular hat or any hat. It does not represent it 
while in my possession before the exchange, nor in the hatter's possession 
after the exchange. Gold is valuable ; it does not merely represent value. 
The value represents an estimate of the comparative labor necessary to 
produce the last increment needful to replenish the stock of gold at a rate 
equivalent to its consumption, — this consumption depending upon the 
comparative utility of gold in relation to jts owq value and that of other 


commodities. Or at a given hat-shop it represents an estimate of the cost 
of bringing as much more gold to the place as equivalent to the cost of 
bringing another hat to the shop. (10) 

Mr. Westrup's fallacious analysis of commerce dogs his steps in every 
process of his reasoning. The gravest evils of the interference of govern- 
ment in monetary matters are little more than its cost and the deadening 
influence of fancied protection. The reform which monetary liberty would 
secure would not include any redistribution of the products of labor. This 
depends partly upon the possibility of the laborer possessing the skill of a 
speculator and of a producer and exercising both at the same time, and 
partly upon the enormously disproportionate share of taxation which he 
has to bear. These and many other evils, in so far as they are increased 
by government, depend not upon arbitrary money, but upon the arbitrary 
alienation of the substance of the citizen. It is a most trivial incident that 
the plunder is nominally priced in and redeemed by one commodity. The 
evil is that it should be taken. The forna makes but an infinitesimal dif- 

Mr. Westrup would do well to ask himself these questions, and, in an- 
swering them, to assign the grounds upon which he proceeds in arriving 
at the conclusions. (11) 

1. Would the value of gold be (a) increased (i) reduced by mutual bank- 
ing ? And what percentage ? 

2. Is gold the only commodity produced and bought by people who 
don't want to consume it? 

3. Would gold lose its pre-eminence as the commodity the value of which 
is most correctly estimated, and which it is therefore safest to buy at market 
value when disposing of our own or our purchased produce ? 

4. What has the rate of interest to do with the net or residual increment 
of wealth remaining as a surplus after maintaining the population ? Is 
this less in the United Kingdom where interest is low than in the United 
States where interest is high ? 

5. How could legislation maintain the value of gold if it became as 
abundant as copper ? Would the volume of money then be greater than 
now ? Would the rate of interest be affected by this alteration apart from 
the changes due to the act of transition from the present state of dear gold 
to the supposed state of cheap gold ? 

6. How is the voluntary custom of selling preferentially for gold 
a monopoly ? Are cattle a monopoly where used as a medium of ex- 
change ? 

7. What analogy is there between a law to require the exclusive con- 
sumption of hand-made bricks and any laws specifying that the word 
Dollar in a bond shall imply a certain quantity of gold ? Does any govern- 
ment force anyone to consume gold in preference to any other com- 
modity? Does government consume gold in constructing its offices and 
defences, or does it merely swap it off for other commodities ? Is all silver 
or gold in the United States delivered to government as fast as made, 
or does government purchase it in the open market ? 

Yours, etc., 

J. Greevz Fisher. 
78 Harrogate Road, Leeds, England. 

Pending the arrival of any answer Mr. Westrup may desire 
to make to the foregoing criticisms upon his pamphlets, for 
>yhich purpose the cplumns of Liberty are open to him, I take 


the liberty of offering some comments as well as answers to Mr. 
Fisher's questions. 

(i) I know of no friend of liberty who regards it as a 
panacea for every ill, or claims that it will make fools success- 
ful, or believes that it will make all men equal, rich, and 
perfectly happy. The Anarchists, it is true, believe that under 
liberty the laborer's wages will buy back his product, and that 
this will make men more nearly equal, will insure the indus- 
trious and the prudent against poverty, and will add to human 
happiness. But between the fictitious claims which Mr. 
Fisher scouts and the real claims which the Anarchists assert 
it is easy to see the vast difference. 

(2) I do not understand how "the unvarying failure of 
unsound currency enactments " makes the interference of 
government with finance seem less pernicious. In fact, it 
drives me to precisely the opposite conclusion. In the phrase, 
" concomitant dwindling of monetary law into a mere specifi- 
cation of truisms," Mr. Fisher repeats his attempt, of which I 
complained in the last issue of Liberty, to belittle the restric- 
tions placed upon the issue of paper money. When he has 
answered the question which I have asked him regarding the 
English banking laws, we can discuss the matter more intelli- 
gently. Meanwhile it is futile to try to make a monopoly seem 
less than a monopoly by resorting to such a circumlocution as 
" system of licensing individuals to carry on certain kinds of 
trades," or to claim that the monopoly of a tool not only 
common but indispensable to all trades is not more injurious 
than the monopoly of a tool used by only one trade or a few 

(3) It is true that if the mass of capital competing for 
investment were increased, the rate of interest would fall. But 
it is not true that scarcity of capital is the only factor that 
keeps up the rate of interest ? If I were free to use my capital 
directly as a basis of credit or currency, the relief from the 
necessity of borrowing additional capital from others would 
decrease the borrowing demand, and therefore the rate of 
interest. And if, as the Anarchists claim, this freedom to use 
capital as a basis of credit should give an immense impetus to 
business, and consequently cause an immense demand for 
labor, and consequently increase productive power, and'con- 
sequently augment the amount of capital, here another force 
would be exercised to lower the rate of interest and cause it to 
gradually vanish. Free trade in banking does not mean only 
unlimited liberty to create debt; it means also vastly increased 
9,bility to meet debt: and, so accompanied, the liberty tQ 


create debt is one of the greatest blessings. It is not erroneous 
to label evidence of debt as money. As Col. Wm. B. Greene well 
said: "That is money which does the work of the tool money." 
When evidence of debt circulates as a medium of exchange, to 
all intents and purposes it is money. But this is of small con- 
sequence. The Anarchists do not insist on the word " money." 
Suppose we call such evidence of debt currency (and surely it 
is currency), what then ? How does this change of name 
affect the conclusions of the " currency-faddists " ? Not in 
the least, as far as I can see. By the way, it is not becoming 
in a man who has, not simply one bee in his bonnet, but a 
whole swarm of them, to talk flippantly of the "fads " of men 
whose lives afford unquestionable evidence of their earnest- 

(4) Mr. Fisher seems to think it inherently impossible to use 
one's property and at the same time pledge it. But what else 
happens when a man, after mortgaging his house, continues to 
live in it ? This is an actual every-day occurrence, and mutual 
banking only seeks to make it possible on easier terms, — the 
terms that will prevail under competition instead of the terms 
that do prevail under monopoly. The man who calls this 
reality an ignis fatuus must be either impudent or ignorant. 
Unfortunately it is true that some believers in mutual banking 
do " dream of symbolical money of indefinite value," but 
none of the standard expositions of the subject offer any such 
fallacy ;,and it is with these that Mr. Fisher must deal if he 
desires to overthrow the mutual banking idea. 

(5) Mr. Westrup's method, if I understand it, would not 
" enable every one to get into debt and keep there," but rather 
to get into debt and out again, greatly to the advantage of the 
borrower and of society generally. Mr. Westrup does not 
contemplate the issue of bank-notes against individual notes 
that never mature. 

(6) Mr. Fisher, in his remark that " no attempt is made to 
show how displacing gold from currency would reduce the 
price as long as its cost and utility remain what they now are," 
is no less absurd than he would be if he were to say that no 
attempt is made to show how displacing flour as an ingredient 
of bread would reduce the price of flour as long as its cost and 
utility remain what they now are. The utility of flour con- 
sists in the fact that it is an ingredient of bread, and the main 
utility of gold consists in the fact that it is used as currency. 
To talk of displacing these utilities and at the same time keep- 
ing them what they now are is a contradiction in terms, of 
which Mr. Fisher is guilty. But Mr. Westrup is guilty of nq 


contradiction at all in claiming that money can be made very 
much more plentiful and yet maintain its value at the same 
time that he contends that the present value of money is due 
to its monopoly or scarcity. For to quote Colonel Greene 

All money is not the same money. There is one money of gold, 
another of brass, another of leather, and another of paper ; and there is 
a difference in the glory of these different kinds of money. There is one 
money that is a commodity, having its exchangeable value determined by 
the law of supply and demand, which money may be called (though some- 
what barbarously) merchandise-money ; as, for instance, gold, silver, brass, 
bank-bills, etc.: there is another money, which is not a commodity, 
whose exchangeable value is altogether independent of the law of supply 
and demand, and which may be called mutual money. ... If ordinary 
bank-bills represented specie actually existing in the vaults of the bank, 
no mere issue or withdrawal of them could effect a fall or rise in the value 
of money: for every issue of a dollar-bill would correspond to the lock- 
ing-up of a specie dollar in the banks' vaults ; and every cancelling of a 
dollar-bill would correspond to the issue by the banks of a specie dollar. 
It is by the exercise of banking privileges — that is, by the issue of bills 
purporting to be, but which are not, convertible — that the banks effect a 
depreciation in the price of the silver dollar. It is this fiction (by which 
legal value is assimilated to, and becomes, to all business intents and 
purposes, actual value) that enables bank-notes to depreciate the silver 
dollar. Substitute verity in the place of fiction, either by permitting the 
banks to issue no more paper than they have specie in their vaults, or by 
effecting an entire divorce between bank-paper and its pretended specie 
basis, and the power of paper to depreciate specie is at an end. So long 
as the fiction is kept up, the silver dollar is depreciated, and tends to 
emigrate for the purpose of travelling In foreign parts ; but, the moment 
the fiction is destroyed, the power of paper over metal ceases. By its 
intrinsic nature specie Is merchandise, having its value determined, as 
such, by supply and demand ; but, on the contrary, paper money is, by 
its intrinsic nature, «o^ merchandise, but the means whereby merchandise 
is exchanged, and, as such, ought always to be commensurate in quantity 
with the amount of merchandise to be exchanged, be that amount great 
or small. Mutual money is measured by specie, but is in no way 


This is one of the most important truths in finance, and 
perfectly accounts for Mr. Westrup's position. When he says 
that money can be made very much more plentiful and yet 
maintain its value, he is speaking of mutual money; when he 
says that the present value of money depends upon monopoly 
or scarcity, he is speaking of merchandise money. 

(7) As sensibly might one say to Mr. Fisher, who is a stanch 
opponent of government postal service, that " the immediate 
effect of the total abstention of government from its protec- 
tion of the public from the roguery of private mail-carriers 


would be that a great crop of fresh schemes would offer them- 
selves to those desirous of intrusting any of their letters to 
others to carry. A very large proportion of these schemes — 
possibly the majority — would be unsound." Well, what of it ? 
Are we on this account to give up freedom ? No, says Mr. 
Fisher. But, then, what is the force of the consideration ? 

(8) Mr. Westrup's money not only shows that A has given 
B a conditional title to certain wealth, but guarantees that this 
wealth has been preserved. That is, it affords a guarantee so 
nearly perfect that it is acceptable. If you take a mortgage 
on a house and the owner insures it in your favor, the guaran- 
tee against loss by fire is not perfect, since the insurance com- 
pany may fail, but it is good enough for practical purposes. 
Similarly, if B, the bank, advances money to A against a mort- 
gage on the latter's stock of goods, it is within the bounds of 
possibility that A will sell the goods and disappear forever, but 
he will thus run the risk of severe penalties; and these penal- 
ties, coupled with B's caution, make a guarantee that prac- 
tically serves. To be sure, Mr. Westrup's money does not 
assure the holder that the bank will deliver the borrowed arti- 
cles on demand, but it does assure him that he can get similar 
articles or their equivalents on demand from any customers of 
the bank that have them for sale, because all these customers 
are pledged to take the bank's notes; to say nothing of the fact 
that the bank, though not bound to redeem on demand, is 
bound to redeem as fast as the mortgage notes mature. 

(9) I perceive the perfect truth of Mr. Donisthorpe's re- 
mark, but I do not perceive its pertinence to the matter under 

(10) Nor do I detect the bearing of the truisms which Mr. 
Fisher enunciates so solemnly. They certainly do not estab- 
lish the absence of any necessity for enabling all wealth to be 
represented by money. This necessity is shown by the fact 
that, when the monetary privilege is conferred upon one form 
of wealth exclusively, the people have to obtain this form of 
wealth at rates that sooner or later send them into bank- 

(11) I conclude by answering Mr. Fisher's questions. 

The value of gold would be reduced by mutual banking, 
because it would thereby be stripped of that exclusive mone- 
tary utility conferred upon it by the State. The percentage of 
this reduction no one can tell in advance, any more than he 
can tell how much whiskey would fall in price if there were 
unrestricted competition in the sale of it. 

Neither gold nor any other commodity is bought by people 


who don't want to consume it or in some way cause others to 
consume it. Gold is in process of consumption when it is in 
use as currency. 

Mutual banking might or might not cause gold to lose its 
pre-eminence as the most thoroughly constituted value. If it 
should do so, then some other commodity more constantly de- 
manded and uniformly supplied would take the place of gold 
as a standard of value. It certainly is unscientific to impart a 
factitious, monopoly value to a commodity in order to make 
its value steady. 

Other things being equal, the rate of interest is inversely 
proportional to the residual increment of wealth, for the reason 
that a low rate of interest (except when offered to an already 
bankrupted people) makes business active, causes a more uni- 
versal employment of labor, and thereby adds to productive 
capacity. The residual increment is less in the United King- 
dom, where interest is low, than in the United States, where 
interest is high, because other things are not equal. But in 
either country this increment would be greater than it now is 
if the rate of interest were to fall. 

If gold became as abundant as copper, legislation, if it chose, 
could maintain its value by decreeing that we should drink 
only from gold goblets. If the value were maintained, the vol- 
ume of money would be greater on account of the abundance of 
gold. This increase of volume would lower the rate of interest. 

A voluntary custom of selling preferentially for gold would 
not be a monopoly, but there is no such voluntary custom. 
Where cattle are used voluntarily as a medium of exchange, 
they are not a monopoly ; but where there is a law that only 
cattle shall be so used, they are a monopoly. 

It is not incumbent on Anarchists to show an analogy be- 
tween a law to require the exclusive consumption of hand- 
made bricks and any law specifying that the word Dollar in a 
bond shall imply a certain quantity of gold. But they are 
bound and ready to show an analogy between the first-named 
law and any laws prohibiting or taxing the issue of notes, of 
whatever description, intended for circulation as currency. 
Governments force people to consume gold, in the sense that 
they give people no alternative but that of abandoning the use 
of money. When government swaps off gold for other com- 
modities, it thereby consumes it in the economic sense. The 
United States government purchases its gold and silver. It 
can hardly be said, however, that it purchases silver in an open 
market, because, being obliged by law to buy so many millions 
each month, it thereby creates an artificial market. 

MoNEV AND Interest. 235 


[Lz'derf^j August 15, i8gi.] 

7*1? tie Editor of Liberty : 

There is not the slightest analogy between allowing theatres to be 
consumed on Sundays and allowing silver or iron to be sold on the same 
terms as gold. Currency is only buying and selling; it is not consum- 
ing. The customary adoption of gold as currency and the endorsement 
of this custom by edict involves only a very insignificant increase in its 
consumption. Most other commodities waste much more than gold in 
the processes of stocking, marketing, and distributing from points of 
production to points of consumption. An admission that if government 
allowed an increase in the consumption of theatres it would raise the 
price, in no way affects any known proposal or enactment in regard to 
gold as currency, because currency laws have so Utile effect upon the 
consumption of gold. There are laws which possibly affect the value of 
the precious metals. There are such as prohibit mixing them freely 
in all proportions, producing utensils or other articles of consumption. 
Thus, if the removal of the present restrictions should lead to a larger 
consumption of silver in culinary articles, this would slightly raise the 
price of silver. 

But what is the use of pursuing a false analogy? If government simply 
facilitated the sale of theatres, how would that affect their price in the 
market? A comparison of the effects of facilitating consumption does 
not illustrate the effects of facilitating exchanges. It is in the power 
of government to alter the values of the precious metals enormously 
within the areas of their dominion by prohibiting their importation or 
exportation or by duties or bounties. It will be time enough to discuss 
these matters when they are proposed. They are not analogous to the 
attempts to fix the value of silver by the schemes of the bi-metallists, 
and they have still less analogy to the statutes which are supposed to 
determine the value of gold, but which, as a matter of fact, do nothing of 
the sort. To state that one-fourth ounce of gold shall exchange for one- 
fourth ounce of gold is simply to cumber the statute book with a 
"chestnut." No government ever does stipulate "that all money shall 
be made of or issued against gold or silver," and it is in supposing 
that it does so that some of our comrades get wrong. What is called 
money in the above sentence means a bond or promise to deliver coin. 
There is nothing to prevent any one from issuing bonds or promises to 
deliver something else, such as petroleum, pig-iron, wheat, lard, and so 
on. If you promise delivery of petroleum on demand or at a date named, 
you only discharge your bond by legally tendering the petroleum as 
specified. The law of England allows this. To prevent it would dis- 
organize all trade. W'hat is prohibited is the production and issue of 
notes in one particular form, — namely, promises to pay gold to bearer 
on demand. It is a most vicious equivoque to call such instruments 
money, and to exclude checks, drafts, bills, notes, whether drawn for 
gold, silver, iron, lard, or even labor. 

Space prohibits (even when a condensed statement, which will be mis- 
named dogmatism, is employed) showing that even under our truck laws 
no one is prohibited from using or taking as a payment, flour, bread, 
meat, calico, boots, and so on. 


The analogy as to an enactment that all plates should be made of tin is 
equally misleading and unsound. Government does not enact that all 
marketable articles shall be made of gold, or that all articles capable of 
being sold for future delivery shall be made of gold. There is no benefit 
to this argument in confounding acts which would seriously affect con- 
sumption with acts which have little or no such effect. The gold em- 
bodied in coins is marketable stock; it is not in consumption, as the tin 
would be if it had a monopoly in plate production. We want plates to 
use; we carry coin always to sell. It is not withdrawn from the market so 
as to raise its price, but is constantly brought afresh to market so as 
equally to lower it. Besides this, the illustration assumes and implies 
that for gold there is no other use of great significance but coin-making. 
If this were so, then the Westrups, the Tarns, and the Tuckers would 
have the argument all on their own side. The fact is, however, that the 
gold mines are not kept open to supply coin, but to supply the arts. 

There is yet another fallacy in our comrades' position. It would be no 
monetary disadvantage if the facts really were as they suppose. If gold 
were twice as dear, or twice as cheap, its merchants would make just the 
same profit, bankers and financiers would not lose or gain — neither would 
anybody except the producers and consumers of gold. Grocers' profits are 
not affected by the price of sugar, but the growers and users are both 
vitally concerned. 

There would seem to be nothing whatever in English law to prevent 
the establishment of a bank without any specie issuing inconvertible paper, 
which the customers mutually agree to accept at par value, but there is 
little likelihood such a scheme would be workable. It would tax the 
powers of a very clever master of legal or Anarchical phraseology to spec- 
ify upon the notes the responsibility of each customer and to preserve the 
power of these customers fulfilling their agreements. Before one could 
vise such notes to buy a breakfast or a railway ticket there would have to 
be a rather involved and tedious disquisition upon economics. No An- 
archist would propose to embody such arrangements in a statute like our 
limited liability laws. Such notes would therefore be simply of the nature 
of mortgage bonds, for which there would possibly be a market and a 
price. The price would probably be below rather than above par. 

Free trade in gold and in credit is desirable. Its desirability is propor- 
tionate to the restrictions which exist, but these are not very great or 
grievous. The field for their discussion opens only when our comrades' 
present mists have rolled away. But they bear no comparison with acts 
for the purchase by government of great quantities of silver, acts for 
repairing worn gold coin at public expense, and, above all, acts for tariffs 
designed to hamper trade and acts for raising public revenue in general. 

Let our comrades in Liberty, Egoism, and The Herald of Anarchy rise 
tp more vital matters when they touch upon the economics of coercion. 
The evils of coinage are greatly overstated, and to them are attributed 
effects with which they have no connection. J. Greevz Fisher. 

78 Harrogate Road, Leeds, England. 

Mr. Fisher's article, printed above, is nothing but a string 
of assei-tions, most of which, as matters of fact, are untrue. 
The chief of these untruths is the statement that in exchang- 
ing gold we do not consume it. What is consumption ? It is 
the act of destroying by use or waste. One of the uses of 
gold — and under the existing financial system its chief use — is 


to act as a medium of exchange, or else as the basis of such a 
medium. In performing this function it wears out ; in other 
words, it is consumed. Being given a monopoly of this use or 
function, it has an artificial value, — a value which it would 
not have if other articles, normally capable of this function, 
were not forbidden to compete with it. And these articles 
suffer from this restriction of competition in very much the 
same way that a theatre forbidden to give Sunday perform- 
ances suffers if its rival is allowed the privilege. Mr. Fisher 
may deny the analogy as stoutly as he chooses ; it is none the 
less established. This analogy established, Mr. Fisher's position 
falls, — falls as surely as his other position has fallen : the 
position that government cannot affect values, which he at 
first laid down with as much contemptuous assurance as if no 
one could deny it without thereby proving himself a born fool. 
So there is no need to refute the rest of the assertions. I will 
simply enter a specific denial of some of them. It is untrue 
that gold is not withdrawn from the market to raise its price. 
It is untrue that the gold mines are kept open principally to 
supply the arts. It is untrue that, if gold were twice as dear 
or twice as cheap, bankers would not lose or gain ; the chief 
business of the banker is not to buy and sell gold, but to lend 
it. And I believe it to be untrue — though here I do not 
speak of what I positively know — that English law permits 
the establishment of such banks as Proudhon, Greene, and 
Spooner proposed. Mr. Fisher certainly should know more 
about this than I, but I doubt his statement, first, because 
I have found him in error so often ; second, because nine out 
of ten Massachusetts lawyers will tell you with supreme con- 
fidence that there is no law in Massachusetts prohibiting the 
use of notes and checks as currency (yet there is one of many 
years' standing, framed in plain terms, and often have I 
astonished lawyers of learning and ability by showing it to 
them) ; and, third, because I am sure that, if such banks were 
legal in England, they would have been started long ago. 


\L{beriy^ August 22, iSgi.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

One does not lay oneself open to a charge of disloyalty to the principles 
of liberty by guarding against extravagant hopes. It seeras necessary to 
keep this in mind before saying a word against any anticipations formed 



by ardent and able advocates of liberty like yourself. It is a hyperbole 
(possibly open to misconstruction) to imply that some advocates of liberty 
regard it as a panacea for every ill. It therefore is a great advantage 
when its expected benefits are clearly defined as in your issue of the nth. 
You believe that under liberty the laborer's wages will buy back his prod- 
uct. This is fortunately a definite issue. It implies that if there be a 
naked producer or a commodity the complete production of which, in- 
cluding all the outlay needful for its delivery to the consumer at the very 
moment when he needs to consume it, occupies time and demands the 
empolyment of wealth in material, sustenance of producer, and tools, of 
none of which this producer is possessed, this pauper producer shall retain 
the full value of his product notwithstanding his partial dependence upon 
some one who provides the necessaries for his production in anticipation 
of his fruition. Is not this a fair and correct interpretation of your phrase? 
and supposing it to be so, does it not show that you expect too much?(i) 

The facilitation of credit and the so-called circulation of debts as a sub- 
stitute for currency, together with all schemes for mutual banking or 
schemes for the more rapid development of commerce, imply that valu- 
ables shall be temporarily placed at the disposal of others than their own- 
ers who meanwhile sustain a privation and also take a serious risk, but 
that these owners shall obtain no recompense beyond the bare return of 
their valuables unimpaired. (2) If a complex and therefore intricate 
scheme or calculation results in producing something out of nothing it 
opens a suspicion that there is some concealed flaw in the train of thought. 
Credit without remuneration, debt without cost, unlimited or very plen- 
tiful money without depreciation, are the desired and hoped results of the 
new schemes. It is most important to distinguish between demanding 
liberty to try these schemes, and pledging liberty to their success. Un- 
fortunately it does not appear to be sufficient to call attention to this dis- 
tinction. Ardent friends will often unite the cause of the fad with that of 
the principle unless the fad itself be destroyed. There are faddists who 
avoid this pitfall. (3) Thus there are some who advocate a reform of 
spelling, but as advocates of freedom decline to make even that hoped 
success of reformed spelling, or its hoped rapid progress under a free sys- 
tem of education, a plea or prop for arguments to emancipate teaching 
from government restriction, or for enforced alienation of citizens' prop- 
erty for its support. Teaching ought to be free not because it is argued 
that spelling would be reformed and the reform would be good, but simply 
that the reform may get a chance and if good may succeed. So govern- 
ment restriction on banking and credit ought not to be repealed because 
Westrup's or Greene's finance would prevail and bless the people, but so 
that this and any other device may be tested and if good succeed. (4) 

As against the scheme itself the contention is that wealth originates 
solely in production, and that with plentiful production the wealth of the 
poor will increase even though the Wealth of some rich people is vastly, 
and, as it is thought, inordinately increased. But this banking scheme 
does not add to production. (5) It is but a scheme for destroying one 
source of income of the rich or appropriating it to the poorer producer. 
Without any attempt at deduction experience dictates the induction that 
the chances are in favor of the man with a special faculty for successful 
financial operations rather than of students of principles. The man who 
can actually value a horse, a house, a crop of wheat, is more useful in pur- 
suing his function as a speculator than a student who can ably analyze 
the components of value by prolonged and tardy research. The trader 
helps society most and at greater risk, so those of them who succeed have 

MONeV and iNtfillESl'. 230 

the greater gain, and it is probably cheaper to society to pay this figure 
for the organization of commerce than dabble in amateurish schemes. 
The experience of co-operation — both its successes and its failures seem 
to point in this direction in this country. (6) 

Government interference in finance has broken down whenever it has 
done serious violence to sound economical principles. At present it does 
not do so. It needlessly coins some metal. This is in England unac- 
companied with the gross error of buying and hoarding increasing quan- 
tities of a metal whose production has been greatly cheapened of late. 
Apart from the silver folly of your government the residual evils of gov- 
ernment coinage are infinitesimal, and they are not commercial. They 
are confined to the loss arising from carrying on a productive or distribu- 
tive process by government under monopoly rather than by free indi- 
viduals in combination or separately under the economic control of com- 
petition. Here they end. It is pure fancy unsupported as yet by evi- 
dence or true analogy that they interfere with the movements of the 
metal, or materially coerce the markets into using an inferior commodity 
as its most reliable and most fluent investment, (7) There is not the 
slightest use for the purposes of this argument in comparing a law en- 
forcing the use of golden drinking-vessels with any laws connected with 
the use of gold as currency. A true analogy would be found in studying 
the effect of monetizing iron by law. Such a law would not demonetize 
gold unless it were much more tyrannical in its mode of prescribing iron 
as a legal tender than our present law is in prescribing gold. (8) All gov- 
ernment income, borrowings, taxes, postage, school pence, court fees, 
all government outlay in wages, war material, grants to localities, pay- 
ment of interest upon debt and all accounts, court verdicts, official valu- 
ations, bankrupt statements, and so on, would be in terms of iron. But 
I should be free to promise future delivery, or acceptance of gold, or to 
sell my services or my products for gold as I now am to promise to give 
or take iron at an agreed time and place or to hire myself for iron or for 
board and lodging or any other mode of recompense I can get any one 
to agree upon. (9) Now it is quite likely the first effect of this would be 
to raise the price of iron and thereby lower the value of gold in compari- 
son with iron, coal, and other economic components of the value of iron. 
It is also quite likely it would stimulate the production of iron. But both 
of these effects would combine to maintain a larger stock of iron hanging 
as a buffer between producer and consumer. This would steady value, 
but it would also in time counteract the first temporary effects of the sup- 
posed monetization of iron, and neither price nor production would con- 
tinue to be excessive — with the sole exception of the small increase of 
consumption from wear and tear of coins. It would not in all probability 
displace gold as the money in the market, because government, instead 
of doing as it now does, registering, and taking praise for the best mone- 
tary substance, would attempt to monetize an ill-adapted commodity, a 
task beyond its strength, and would sustain defeat as it has often done 
when debasement or other anti-economic schemes were undertaken. 

If as you assert the main utility of gold consists in the fact that it is 
used for currency, then your general position is impregnable. But that 
this is not sound is somewhat implied by Greene, who recognizes gold 
and silver as merchandise. "Specie is merchandise having its value de- 
termined, as such, by supply and demand." The words " as such " may 
simply imply " therefore " or may imply an idea on Greene's part that 
the value of specie as money was otherwise determined. But what evi- 
dence have we that the very frequent resale of gold — called its monetary 

^4^ iNSTEAD OF A fe60IC. 

circulation — is effectual in altering its price (wear and tear excepted) ? 
Every time gold is bought in or gathered in taxes the tendency is to put 
up the price, and every time it is thrown into market or spent by govern- 
ment in outlay it tends to lower its value. These operations do not con- 
stitute a monopoly. Any one can buy and any one can sell gold coin. 
There is no monopoly in the matter. The monetary privilege is not a 
monopoly, and it grows in the open market, not in the fancied forcing- 
house of government. Greene alleges (in small caps) that mutual money 
would neither raise nor lower the price of specie. You hold that it 
would be tangibly reduced by mutual banking. Which is correct ? (lo) 
Comparing the reduction in value you anticipate with one which might 
arise in the price of whiskey if there were unrestricted competition 'in the 
sale of it, you overlook the fact that there is unrestricted competition in 
the sale of gold bullion and specie. Moreover, though we cannot tell by 
what amount the price of whiskey would be reduced by unrestricted com- 
petition, we can tell of what the fall would consist. It would be limited 
to such relinquishment of profit as would be forced upon the dealers by 
competition. If consumption increased, it might raise the price by its 
effect upon marginal or residual production yielding a diminished return, 
or it might be lowered by cheapening production by remunerating eco- 
nomic employment of capital. This is a false and inapplicable analogy. 
It is no more correct to say that gold is in the process of being consumed 
when it is in use as currency than to say that the inevitable waste or de- 
terioration of commodities on the road from producer to consumer is 
economically an act of consumption, (ii) Production is not complete 
until the commodity reaches the hands of a person who applies it lo the 
direct gratification of some personal craving. The waste of gold in the 
function of currency is part of the cost which the consumer has to repay 
when that coin has been converted into a consumable product which he 
purchases. The only exception is that this cost may fall upon some other 
product when the less waste of gold is voluntarily substituted for the 
waste of any other commodity if one seeks to transport to a distant mar- 
ket mere value irrespective of its embodiment. It is as if one tempora- 
rily needed a certain weight to steady a machine, but was indifferent as 
to whether it was embodied in stone, iron, or gold, all of which he hap- 
pens to have in stock, but which he can subsequently consume or sell 
unimpaired, and whose employment for this purpose only infinitesimally 
deteriorates the ponderable and does not impoverish his trade stock be- 
cause it does not withdraw the ponderous article from inspection or sale. 
It is not correct to reply to a monetary question by pointing out that 
government might keep gold as dear as it now is even if it were as cheaply 
produced as copper, by decreeing that we should drink only from gold 
goblets. If this could have such effect it would be inapplicable to this 
discussion, because it would be decreeing consumption while currency is 
not consumption, but only marketing. But it would fail, because of the 
durability of substance. Only by buying up the metal at the desired value 
could the value be maintained. No purchases of gold with gold would 
alter its value. Silver, copper, wheat would have to be used to buy up 
gold at the value it was desired to maintain, and of course no govern- 
ment would have the strength for this. (12) It must be remembered that 
miners would be sellers at cost. The United States government raises 
the price of silver now while it is a buyer. If it tipped it in mid-ocean 
it would then consume it in an economic sense. When it becomes a 
seller the price must fall. The fact that there is a possibility the law 
may change at any moment even now keeps the price from rising as it 

MoNfiV AJjb mTERESt. i4t 

Would if the silver were immediately consumed or destroyed instead of 
being hoarded. Surely it is a very palpable error to say that when gov- 
ernment sells or spends gold it consumes it in an economic sense. If I 
swap a horse for a cow and kill and eat the cow, do I consume the horse? 
(13) I took the horse from the market when I bought it, and I return it to 
the market when I offer to sell it. The question of the metal has de- 
manded so much elucidation that debts as commodities and as currency 
must wait a future communication. J. Greevz Fisher. 

78 Harrogate Road, Leeds, England. 

(i) No, this is not a correct interpretation of my phrase, 
because it >is based upon a conception of the term product 
seriously differing from my own. If a laborer's product is 
looked upon as the entirety of that which he delivers to the 
consumer, then indeed Mr. Fisher's point is well taken, and 
to expect the laborer's wages to buy back his product is to 
expect too much. But that is not what is ordinarily meant by 
a laborer's product. A laborer's product is such portion of 
the value of that which he delivers to the, consumer as his 
own labor has contributed. To expect the laborer's wages to 
buy this value back is to expect no more than simple equity. 
If some other laborer has contributed to the total value of the 
delivered article by making a tool which has been used in its 
manufacture by the laborer who delivers it, then the wages 
of the laborer who makes the tool should also buy back Ms 
product or due proportion of value, and would do so under 
liberty. But his portion of the value and therefore his wage 
would be measured by the wear and tear which the tool had 
suffered in this single act of manufacture, and not by any sup- 
posed benefit conferred by the use of the tool over and above 
its wear and tear. In other words, the tool-maker would 
simply sell that portion of the tool destroyed in the act of man- 
ufacture instead of lending the tool and receiving it again ac- 
companied by a value which would more than restore it to its 
original condition. Mr. Fisher's interpretation rests, further- 
more, on a misconception of the term wages. When a farmer 
hires a day-laborer for a dollar a day and his boai-d, the board 
is as' truly a part of the wages as is the dollar ; and when I say 
that the laborer's wages should buy back his product, I mean 
that the total amount which he receives for his labor, whether 
in. advance or subsequently, and whether consumed before or 
after the performance of his labor, should be equal in market 
value to his total contribution to the product upon which he 
bestows his labor. Is this expecting too much ? If so, might 
I ask to whom the excess of product over wage should equit- 
ably go ? 

(2) Every man who postpones consumption takes a risk. If 

S4* Instead of a book. 

he keeps commodities which he does not wish to. consume, 
they may perish on his hands. If he exchanges them for 
gold, the gold may decline in value. If he exchanges them 
for government paper promising gold on demand, the paper 
may decline in value. And if he exchanges thera for mutual 
money, this transaction, like the others (though in a smaller 
degree, we claim), has its element of risk. But, as long as 
merchants seem to think that they run less risk by temporarily 
placing their valuables at the disposal of others than by re- 
taining possession of them, the advocates of mutual money 
will no more concern themselves about giving them recom- 
pense beyond the bare return of their valuables unimpaired 
than the advocates of gold and government paper will concern 
themselves to insure the constancy of the one or the solvency 
of the other. As for the " something out of nothing " fallacy, 
that is shared between God and the Shylocks, and, far from 
being entertained by the friends of free banking, is their 
special abomination. " Credit without remuneration ! " shrieks 
Mr. Fisher in horror. But, if credit is reciprocal, why should 
there be remuneration ? " Debt without cost ! " But, if debt 
is reciprocal, why should there be cost ? " Unlimited or very 
plentiful money without depreciation ! " But if the contem- 
plated addition to the volume of currency contemplates in 
turn a broadening'of the basis of currency, why should there 
be depreciation ? Free and mutual banking means simply 
reciprocity of credit, reciprocity of debt, and an extension of 
the currency basis. Mr. Fisher has been so inveterate a 
drinker of bad economic whiskey that he has got the eco- 
nomic jim-jams and sees snakes on every hand. 

(3) In applying it to his own views also, Mr. Fisher takes 
the sting out of the word "fad." But it was and is my im- 
pression that he originally applied it to the views of the free 
money advocates, not in the playful spirit in which all inde- 
pendent men call themselves "cranks," but in the contemp- 
tuous spirit "in which they are given that appellation by the 
mossbacks. And it was natural enough. In finance, Mr. 
Fisher is a mossback. Contempt for contempt, — that's fair, 
isn't it ? 

(4) It has been repeatedly stated in these columns that .we 
ask nothing but liberty. Given liberty, if we fail, we will sub- 
side. Nevertheless, with Mr. Fisher's permission, we will 
continue to put in our best licks for liberty in those directions 
which seem to us most promising of good results. Mean- 
while we accord to Mr. Fisher the privilege of rapping away 
for spelling reform so lohg as he does it at his own expense, 


which is not the case at present. (My readers may not see 
the point, but Mr. Fisher and my printers will.) 

(s) This I deny. It is the especial claim of free banking 
that it will increase production. To make capital fluent is to 
make business active and to keep labor steadily employed at 
wages which will cause a tremendous effective demand for 
goods. If free banking were only a picayunish attempt to 
distribute more equitably the small amount of wealth now pro- 
duced, I would not waste a moment's energy on it. 

(6) Here we have a very good reason why I should con- 
tinue to debate with Mr. Fisher rather than form a banking 
partnership with Mr. Westrup. Very likely the banking firm of 
Westrup, Tucker & Co. would come speedily to grief. But I 
am none the less interested in securing the greatest possible 
liberty for banking so that I may profit by the greater compe- 
tition that would then be carried on between those born with 
a genius for finance. But what about Proudhon, Mr. Fisher ? 
He was no amateur. He could value, not only a horse, but a 
railroad, the money kings utilized his business brains, his 
Manual for a Bourse Speculator served them as a guide, and, 
when he started his Banque du Peuple, it immediately assumed 
such proportions that Napoleon had to construct a crime for 
which to clap him into jail in order to save the Bank of 
France from this dangerous competitor. Amateur, indeed ! 

(7) On the contrary, there is an abundance of evidence. 
The suppression of Proudhon's bank was a coercion of the 
market. And in this country attempt after attempt has been 
made to introduce credit money outside of government and 
national bank channels, and the promptness of the suppression 
has always been proportional to the success of the attempt. 

(8) Here Mr. Fisher becomes heretical. The champions of 
gold are proclaiming with one voice that the monetization of 
silver will prove the demonetization of gold. 

(9) Just as free, and no more so. But this is no freedom at 
all. I tell Mr. Fisher again that it is a crime to issue and cir- 
culate as currency a note promising to deliver iron at a certain 
time. I know that it is a crime in this country, and I believe 
that the laws of England contain restrictions that accomplish 
virtually the same result. 

(10) There is no contradiction between my position and 
Greene's. Greene held, as I hold, that the existing monopoly 
imparts an artificial value to gold, and that the abolition of 
the monopoly would take away this artificial value. But he 
also held, as I hold, that, after this reduction of value had 
been effected, the variations in the volume of mutual money 


would be independent of the price of specie. In other words, 
this reduction of the value of gold from the artificial to the 
normal point will be effected by the equal liberty given to 
other commodities to serve as a basis of currency; but, this 
liberty having been granted and having taken effect, the issue 
of mutual money against these commodities, each note being 
based on a specific portion of them, cannot affect the value of 
any of these commodities, of which gold is one. It is no an- 
swer to the charge of monopoly to say that any one can buy 
and sell gold coin. No one denies that. The monopoly com- 
plained of is this, — that only holders of gold (and, in this coun- 
try, of government bonds) can use their property as currency 
or as a basis of currency. Such a monopoly has even more 
effect in enhancing the price of gold than would a monopoly 
that should allow only certain persons to deal in gold. The 
price of gold is determined less by the number of persons deal- 
ing in it than by the ratio of the total supply to the total de- 
mand. The monopoly that the Anarchists complain of is the 
monopoly that increases the demand for gold by giving it the 
currency function to the exclusion of other commodities. If 
my whiskey illustration isn't satisfactory, I will change it. If 
whiskey were the only alcoholic drink allowed to be used as a 
beverage, it would command a higher price than it commands 
now. I should then tell Mr. Fisher that the value of whiskey 
was artificial and that free rum would reduce it to its normal 
point. If he should then ask me what the normal point was, 
I should answer that I had no means of knowing. If he should 
respond that the fall in whiskey resulting from free rum "would 
be limited to such relinquishment of profit as would be forced 
upon the dealers by competition," I should acquiesce with the 
remark that the distance from London to Liverpool is equal 
to the distance from Liverpool to London, 

(ii) It is Mr. Fisher's analogy, not mine, that is false and 
inapplicable. The proper analogy is not between gold and' 
the commodities carried, but between gold and the vehicle in 
which they are carried. The cargo of peaches that rots on its 
way from California to New England may not be economically 
consumed (though for my life I can't see why such consump- 
tion isn't as economic as the tipping of silver into the Atlantic 
by the United States government, which Mr. Fisher considers 
purely economic), but at any rate the wear of the car that 
carries the cargo is an instance of economic consumption. 
Now the gold that goes to California to pay for those peaches 
and comes back to New England to pay for cotton cloth, and 
thus goes back and forth as constantly as the railway car and 


facilitates exchange equally with the railway car and wears 
out in the process just as the railway car wears out, is in my 
judgment consumed precisely as the railway car is consumed. 
That only is a complete product, Mr. Fisher tells us, which is 
in the hands of a person who applies it to the direct gratifica- 
tion of some personal craving. I suppose Mr. Fisher will not 
deny that a railway car is a complete product. But if it can 
be said to be in the hands of a person who applies it to the 
direct gratification of some personal craving, then the same 
can be said of gold. 

(12) I did not mean to say for a moment that a government 
could carry out such an arbitrary policy of fixing values to an 
unlimited extent without a revolution, but only that as far as 
the attempt should be made, the economic result, pending the 
revolution, would be as stated. 

(13) Yes, to a trifling extent. And if the horse were then 
to be used to buy a sheep, and then to buy a dog, and then to 
buy a cat, and then to buy a cigar, until finally he could not 
be sold for enough oats to keep him from falling in his tracks, 
it is my firm conviction that the horse in that case would be 
economically consumed in fulfilling the function of currency. 


[Liberty, .February 26, 1887.] 

I MUST refer once more to the Winsted Press and its 
editor. It is lamentable to see so bright a man as Mr. Pinney 
wasting his nervous force in assaults on windmills. But it is 
his habit, whenever he finds it necessary or thinks it timely to 
say something in answer to free-money advocates, to set up a 
windmill, label it free money, and attack that. An instance 
of this occurs in a scolding article on the subject in his issue 
of February 17, as the following sentence shows : "We had a 
little taste of this free currency in the days of State wildcat 
banking, when every little community had its State bank 
issues." The italics are mine, — used to emphasize the substi- 
tution of the windmill State for the giant Freedom. How 
could State bank issues be free money ? Monopoly is monop- 
oly, whether granted by the United States or by a single 
State, and the old State banking system was a thoroughly 
monopolistic system. The unfairness and absurdity of Mr. 
Finney's remark become apparent with the reflection that the 


principal English work relied upon by the friends of free 
money, Colonel Greene's "Mutual Banking," was written ex- 
pressly in opposition to the then existing State banking sys- 
tem, years before the adoption of the national banking system. 
Mr. Pinney wouM not fall back upon this idiotic argument if 
he had a better one. That he has none is indicated by his 
saying of free money, as he says of free trade : " In theory the 
scheme is plausible. In practice it would probably be an abom- 
ination." Mr. Finney's old conservative, cowardly, Calvin- 
istic refuge ! When driven into a corner on a question which 
turns on the principle of Liberty, he has but one resort, which 
amounts practically to this : " Liberty is right in theory every- 
where and always, but in certain cases it is not practical. In 
all cases where I want men to have it, it is practical ; but in 
those cases where I do not want men to have it, it is not prac- 
tical." What Mr. f inney wants and does not want depends 
upon mental habits and opinions acquired prior to that theo- 
retical assent to the principle of hberty which the arguments 
of the Anarchists have wrung from him. 


[Liberty, March 26, 1887.] 

Pinney of the Winsted Press grows worse and worse. It 
will be remembered that, in attacking the free-money theory, 
he said we had a taste of it in the day of State wildcat bank- 
ing, when every little community had its State bank issues ; to 
which I made this answer : " How could State bank issues 
be free money ? Monopoly is monopoly, whether granted by 
the United States or by a single State, and the old State bank- 
ing system was a thoroughly monopolistic system." This lan- 
guage clearly showed that the free-money objection to the old 
State banks as well as to the present national banks is not 
founded on any mistaken idea that in either case the govern- 
ment actually issues the money, but that in both cases alike 
the money is issued by a monopoly granted by the government. 
But Pinney, not daring to meet this, affects to ignore the real 
meaning of my words by assuming to interpret them as follows 
(thus giving new proof of my assertion that he wastes his 
strength in attacking windmills): 

It is apparently Mr. Tucker's notion that State banlcs were an institu- 
tion of the State. They were no more a government institution than 


is a railroad company that receives its charters from the State and con- 
ducts its business as a private corporation under State laws. . . . For 
purposes of illustration, they answer well, and Mr. Tucker's effort to 
lessen the force of the illustration by answering that they were institu- 
tions of the State, because they are called for convenience State banks, is 
very near a resort to wilful falsehood. 

What refreshing audacity ! Pinney knovv's perfectly well 
that the advocates of free money are opposed to the national 
banks as a monopoly enjoying a privilege granted by the gov- 
ernment ; yet these, like the old State banks, are no more a 
government institution than such a railroad company as he 
describes. Both national and State banks are law-created 
and law-protected monopolies, and therefore not free. Any- 
body, it is true, could establish a State bank, and can estab- 
lish a national bank, who can observe the prescribed condi- 
tions. But the monopoly inheres in theu compulsory conditions. 
The fact that national bank-notes can be issued only by those 
who have government bonds and that State bank-notes could 
be issued only by those who had specie makes both vitally and 
equally objectionable from the standpoint of free and mutual 
banking, the chief aim of which is to secure the right of all 
wealth to monetization without prior conversion into some par- 
ticular form of wealth limited in amount and without being 
subjected to ruinous discounts. If Mr. Pinney does not know 
this, he is not competent to discuss finance ; if he does know 
it, it was a quibble and " very near a resort to wilful false- 
hood " for him to identify the old State banking system with 
free banking. 

But he has another objection to free money, — that it would 
enable the man who has capital to monetize it, and so double 
his advantages over the laborer who has none. Therefore he 
would have the general government, which he calls the whole 
people, " monetize their combined wealth and use it in the 
form of currency, while at the same time the wealth remains 
in its owner's hands for business purposes." This is Mr. 
Finney's polite and covert way of saying that he would have 
those without property confiscate the goods of those who 
have property. For no governmental mask, no fiction of the 
"whole people," can disguise the plain fact tha»to compel 
one man to put his property under pawn to secure money issued 
by or to another man who has no property is robbery and 
nothing else. Though you leave the property in the owner's 
hands, there is a " grab " mortgage upon it in the hands of the 
government, which can foreclose when it sees fit. Mr. Pinney 
is on the rankest Communistic ground, and ought to declare 
biraself a State SQgialist at once. - - ^ " 


Certainly no one wishes more heartily than I that every in- 
dustrious .man was the owner of capital, and it is precisely to 
secure this result that I desire free money. I thought Mr. 
Pinney was a good enough Greenbacker to know (for the 
Greenbackers know some valuable truths, despite their fiat- 
money delusion) that the economic beneiits of an abundance 
of good money in circulation are shared by all, and not reaped 
exclusively by the issuers. He has often clearly shown that 
the effect of such abundance is to raise the laborer's wages to 
an equivalence to his product, after which every laborer who 
wishes to possess capital will be able to accumulate it by his 
work. All that is wanted is a means of issuing such an abun- 
dance of money free of usury. Now, if they only had the 
liberty to do so, there are already enough large and small 
property-holders willing and anxious to issue money, to pro- 
vide a far greater amount than is needed, and there would be 
sufificient competition among them to bring the price of issue 
down to cost, — that is, to abolish interest. Liberty avoids 
both forms of robbery,— monopoly on the one side and Com- 
munism on the other, — and secures all the beneficent results 
that are (falsely) claimed for either. 


{Liberty^ April 23, 1887.] 

Having exhausted the resources of sophistry, and unable 
longer to dodge the inexorable and Procrustean logic of 
Pinney the anti-Prohibitionist, Pinney the Protectionist has 
subsided, and is now playing possum in the Procrustean bed 
in which Pinney the anti-Prohibitionist has laid him. But 
Pinney the Greenbacker evidently hopes still, by some for- 
tunate twist or double, to find an avenue of escape yet open, 
and thus avoid the necessity of doing the possum act twice. 
Accordingly, in his Winsted Fress of April 7, he makes sev- 
eral frantic dashes into the dark, the first of which is as fol- 
lows : * 

Our first objection to free money was that the great variety of issues, 
coupled with a questionable security, would limit circulation to local cir- 
cuits and subject the bill-holder to harassing uncertainty as to the value 
of currency in his possession and to constant risk of loss. To illustrate 
this defect we mentioned the experience of the people with the old State 
bank bills, which experience, disastrous as it was, did not offer a fair par- 
allel, simply and solely because it was not disastrous enough, the b^nks \)%- 


ing limited and regulated in a measure by State»laws and machinery to 
enforce contracts. Our Boston Procrustes thereupon plunged straight into 
trouble by denying the similitude, because forsooth the old banks were 
incorporated institutions not perfectly free to cheat their creditors, forget- 
ting that, in so far as they differed from free banks, the difference in point 
of security, scope of credit, etc., was in our favor. 

That is one way of putting it. Here is another. Free money- 
advocates hold that security is one (only one) essential of good 
money, and that competition is sure to provide this essential, 
competition being simply natural selection or the survival of 
the fittest, and the fittest necessarily possessing the quality of 
security. But they have never held that it was impossible for 
monopoly to furnish a temporally secure money. It may or 
may not do so, according to the prescribed conditions of its 
existence. Pending the universal bankruptcy and revolution 
to which it inevitably will lead if allowed to live long enough, 
the national bank monopoly furnishes a money tolerably well 
secured. But the old State bank monopoly furnished a 
money far inferior in point of security, not because it was a 
freer system, — for it was not, — not because the conditions of 
its existence were less artificially and compulsorily prescribed, 
— for they were not, — but because the conditions thus pre- 
scribed were less in accordance with wise business principles 
and administration. The element of competition, or natural 
selection, upon which the free money advocates rely for the 
supply of a money that combines security with all other nec- 
essary qualities, was just as much lacking from the old State 
bank system as it is from the present national bank system. 
Therefore, to say of the State banks that, " in so far as they 
differed from free banks, the difference in point of security, 
scope of credit, etc., was in their favor " is to beg the question 
entirely ; and accordingly, when Mr. Pinney, as sole proof of an 
assertion that free money would be unsafe money, offered the 
insecurity of .the old State bank bills, I informed him that 
there was not the slightest pertinence in his illustration, 
whereby I plunged, not myself, but Mr. Pinney into trouble. 

To get out of it he performs a double which eclipses all his 
previous evolutions. Finding that he must deal in some way 
with my statement that the monopoly of money inheres in the 
compulsory conditions of its issue, chief among which are 
the government bond basis in the national bank system and 
the specie basis in the old State bank system, he asks : 

How then about your free banking? Are there not any "compulsory 
conditions?" Free bank notes can be issued only by those who have 
government bonds, or specie, or property of some sort, we suppose, so 
tjiere are your ''compulsory conditions," enforced by the business law 


of self-preservation (fjr State law is not to be mentioned in Anarchist 
ears), and " the monopoly inheres in these compulsory conditions." 
Behold, then, the new monopoly of those who have property I 

To this absurdity there are tvi'O ansv^fers. In the first place, 
it is not true that under a free banking system " notes can be 
issued only by those who have property of some sort." They 
can be 'issued and offered in the market by anybody who 
desires. To be sure, none will be taken except those issued 
by persons having either property or credit. But there is no 
monopoly of issue or the right to issue, no denial of liberty. 
If Mr. Pinney should claim that this answer amounts to 
nothing because issue is valueless without circulation, I shall 
then remind him of my previous statement that the circulation 
of an abundance of cheap and sound money benefits those 
who use it no less than those who issue it, and tends to raise 
the laborer's wages to a level with his product, — a point which 
he carefully avoids in his last article, because he knows that 
he cannot dispute it, having frequently maintained the same 
thing himself. 

But, in the second place, Mr. Finney's argument that the 
possession of property is a necessary condition of the issue 
and circulation of money, and that therefore free money is 
as much a compulsory monopoly as that of the government 
which prescribes the possession of a certain kind of property 
as a condition of even the issue of money, is precisely on a 
par with — in fact, is a glaring instance of — the reasoning 
resorted to by those friends of despotism who deny political 
and social liberty on the ground of philosophical necessity. 
The moment any person, in the name of human freedom, 
claims the right to do anything which another person does 
not want him to do, you will hear the second person cry : 
" Freedom ! Impossible 1 There's no such thing. None of 
us are free. Are we not all governed by circumstances, by 
our surroundings, by motives beyond our control ? Bow, then, 
to the powers that be ! " Boiled down, the argument of these 
people and of Mr. Pinney is this : " No one can do as he 
pleases. Therefore you must do as we please." It needs 
only to be stated in this bald form to be immediately rejected. 
Hence I shall attempt no further refutation of it. Mr. Pinney 
will please bear in mind hereafter that, when I use the word 
monopoly, I refer not to such monopolies as result from nat- 
ural evolution independent of government, but to monopolies 
imposed by arbitrary human power. He knew it very well 
before, but he must dodge, and this was the only dodge left. 
Let the reader note here, however, how his double un(Ji(J 


him. He Says .that under free banking the condition of a 
secure basis for money would be " enforced by the business 
law of self-preservation," exactly the opposite of his original 
charge that free money would be unsafe. 

But he is not yet done with this twaddle about " compulsory 
conditions." Read again : 

Mr. Tucker cannot see that there is any difference in principle between 
a law which absolutely prohibits the sale of an article, and a law which 
taxes the seller of that article. The tax is a "compulsory condition " 
which prohibits till it is complied with. The possession of property is 
another compulsory condition which prohibits free banking till it is com- 
plied with. Therefore there is no difference between absolute prohibition 
of free banking and the monopolistic condition that practically prohibits 
a man from being a free banker unless he can put up the security. 

Utter confusion again ! Mr. Pinney seems unable to dis- 
tinguish between disabilities created by human meddlesomeness 
and those that are not. The law which prohibits a sale and 
the law which taxes the seller both belong to the former class ; 
the lack of property belongs to the latter, or rather, it belongs 
to the latter when conditions are normal. It is true that the 
lack of property which at present prevails arises in most cases 
out of this very denial of free banking, but I cannot believe 
that even Mr. Pinney would cap the climax of his absurdity 
by assigning as a reason for the further denial of free banking 
a condition of affairs which has grown out of its denial in the 
past. The number of people who now own property, and the 
amount of property which they own, are sufficient to insure 
us an abundance of money as soon as soon as its issue shall 
be allowed, and from the time this issue begins the total 
amount of property and the number of property-owners will 
steadily increase. 

To my objection to his government money monopoly that 
it would be Communistic robbery to mortgage all the wealth 
of the nation to secure all the money of the nation, Mr. Pinney 
can only make answer that the possibility that the government 
would foreclose the mortgage — that is, increase taxation — 
would be very remote. As if any possibility could be con- 
sidered remote which is within the power and for the interest 
of lawmakers to achieve, and as if it were not the end and aim 
of government to tax the people all that it possibly can ! 

252 Instead op a book. 


[Liberty^ May i6, i8gi.] 

Liberty is asked by the Mutual Bank Propaganda of Chicago 
to answer the following questions, and takes pleasure in com- 
plying with the request. 

" I. Does the prohibitory tax of ten per cent, imposed by 
Congress on any issue of paper money other than is issued 
by the U. S. Treasury limit the volume of money ? If not, 
why not ? 


" 2. Whence did the State originally derive the ' right ' to 
dictate what the people should use as money ? " 

From its power. 

" 3. If an association or community voluntarily agree to use 
a certain money of their own device to facilitate the exchange 
of products and avoid high rates of interest, has the State the 
right to prohibit such voluntary association for mutual ad- 
vantage ? " 

Only the right of might. 

" 4. Do not restrictions as to what shall be used as money 
interfere with personal liberty ? " 


" 5. Has the question of free trade in banking — i.e., the 
absence of all interference on the part of the State with 
making and supplying money — ever been a matter of public 
discussion ? " 


" 6. What effect does the volume of money have upon the 
rate of interest ?" 

I suppose the intention is to ask what effect changes in the 
volume of money have upon the rate of interest. Not neces- 
sarily any ; but any arbitrary limitation of the volume of 
money that tends to keep it below the demand also tends to 
raise the rate of interest. 

" 7. Can the business of banking and the supply of money 
be said to be under the operation of supply and demand 
where the State prohibits or restricts its issue, or dictates what 
shall be used as money ? " 

Inasmuch as they often are said to be so, they evidently 
can be said to be so, but whoever says them to be so lies. 

" 8. Is there such a thing as a measure or standard of value ? 
If so, how is it constituted, and what is its function ? " 


There is such a thing as a measure or standard of value 
whenever we use anything as such. It is constituted such 
either by force or by agreement. Its function is implied in 
its name — measure of value. Without the selection, delib- 
erate or accidental, conscious or unconscious, of something 
as a standard of value, money is not only impossible, but un- 

" 9. What becomes of the ' standard ' or ' measure ' of value 
during suspensions of specie payment ? " 

Nothing. It remains what it was before. Certain parties 
have refused to pay their debts ; that's all. 

" 10. Are you in favor of free trade in banking, including 
the issue of paper money ? If not, why not ? " 



\_LzhertVi June 13, 1891.] 

Readers of Liberty will remember an article in No. 184 on 
" The Functions of Money," reprinted from the Galveston 
News. In a letter to the News I commented upon this article 
as follows: 

I entirely sympathize with your disposal of the Evening Post's at- 
tempt to belittle the function of money as a medium of exchange ; but 
do you go far enough when you content yourself with saying that a 
standard of value is highly desirable ? Is it not absolutely necessary ? 
Is money posible without it? If no standard is definitely adopted, and 
then if paper money is issued, does not the first commodity that the first 
note is exchanged for immediately become a standard of value? Is not 
the second holder of the note governed in making his next purchase by 
what he parted with in his previous sale? Of course it is a very poor 
standard that is thus arrived at, and one that must come in conflict with 
other standards adopted in the same indefinite way by other exchanges 
occurring independently but almost simultaneously with the first one 
above supposed. But so do gold and silver come in conflict now. 
Doesn't it all show that the idea of a standard is inseparable from money ? 
Moreover, there is no danger in a standard. The whole trouble dis- 
appears with the abolition of the basis privilege. 

The News printed my letter, and made the following re- 

It will occur that in emphasizing one argument there is such need of 
passing others by with seeming unconcern that to some minds other 
truths seem slighted, — truths which also need emphasizing perhaps in 
an equal, or it may be, for useful practical reasons, in a superior degree. 


The News alms at illustrating one thing at a time, but it is both recep- 
tive and grateful to those correspondents who intelligently extend its 
work and indicate useful subjects for discussion, giving their best thought 
thereon. A Boston reader, speaking of the standard of value, states an 
undeniable truth to the effect that without a thing or things of value to 
which paper money can be referred and which can ultimately be got for 
it, such money would be untrustworthy or worthless. The News in 
a past article was discussing primary commerce and the transition to 
indirect exchange. No agreed standard for valuation is needed while 
mere barter is the rule ; but it is indispensable as soon as circulating 
notes are issued. The vice of the greenback theory is that the notes do 
not call for anything in particular, and so, if their volume be doubled, 
their purchasing power must apparently decline one-half. A note pro- 
perly based on gold, silver, wheat, cotton, or other commodity has a 
tangible security behind it. The one thing may be better than the 
other, but the principle is there in all. It is, however, a notable truth 
that the standard for valuation can be nothing better than an empirical 
one. Like mathematical quantities, value has no independent existence, 
but, unlike mathematical quantities, value has not even existence as a 
quality of one object. It cannot be compared to a measure of length, 
which posesses the quality of extension in itself. Gold is assumed to 
vary little in relation to other things, and they to vary much in relation 
to gold. Nobody can know how much gold does vary in the relation. 
The notable steadiness is in the amount of labor which will produce a 
given quantity and the length of time which it will last. The basis of the 
assumed steadiness of gold is thus found. But if the standard for use in 
making valuations be confessedly empirical and value an elusive quality 
not of things separately, but of things in relation, there is a countervail- 
ing difference between a standard of length and a standard of value, 
which results in disposing of the objection that the standard is empirical. 
Why would it be a serious objection to a yardstick if it were longer or 
shorter from day to day ? Because thus the customer would get more or 
less cloth than was intended. But why is that? Because the function 
of the yardstick is to measure for delivery as great a length of cloth as 
its own length. But now let us visit a bank or insurance office. We 
want a loan of circulating notes or a policy of insurance. The property 
offered as security is valued. Assume that gold is taken as the standarci, 
and that the loan or the policy is for $600 on a valuation of $1000. It 
is no matter in these cases if the standard varies, provided it does not 
vary to exceed the margin between the valuation and the obligation. The 
property pledged is merely security for the loan, or, in the case of in- 
surance, the premium paid is a per cent, of the amount insured. The 
margin between the valuation and the loan is established to make the loan 
abundantly safe. The policy is safely written through the same expedi- 
ent. The empirical standard of value has a needful compensation about 
it which the yardstick or other measure neither has nor needs, — viz., the 
valuing goods does not deliver them. It is provisional. In case of 
default in paying back the loan, the goods are sold and the same money 
borrowed is paid back, but the residue goes to the borrower. It is there- 
fore an efficient compensation for the lack of an invariable standard of 
value that the actual standard in any case is simply used as a means of 
estimating limits within which loans are safe. All danger is avoided by 
giving the borrower the familiar right in case of foreclosure. It is some- 
times a fine thing to discover distinctions, but it is a frequently a finer 
thing to discover whether or not the distinctions affect the question. 

MONEV Aisic Interest. 255 

While not hesitating for a moment to accept the News's 
explanation that, when hinting that a standard of value is not 
indispensable, it was speaking of barter only, I may point out 
nevertheless that there was a slip of the pen, and that the 
words actually used conveyed the idea that something more 
than barter was in view. Let me quote from the original 
article : 

It is manifest that a medium of exchange is absolutely necessary to all 
trade beyond barter. A standard of value is highly desirable, but per- 
haps this is as much as can be safely asserted on that question. 

It seems to me a fair interpretation of this language to claim 
the meaning that in trade beyond barter it is not sure that a 
standard of value is absolutely necessary. And this interpre- 
tation receives additional justification when it is remembered 
that the words were used in answer to the Evening Post's 
contention that, in comparing the two functions of money, its 
office of medium of exchange must be held inferior to its 
office of measuring values. 

However, the JSfews now makes it sufficiently clear that a 
standard of value is absolutely essential to money, thereby 
taking common ground with me against the position of 
Comrade Westrup. Still I cannot quite agree to all that it 
says in comment upon the Westrup view. 

First, I question its admission that a measure of value dif- 
fers from a measure of length in that the former is empirical. 
True, value is a relation ; but then, what is extension ? Is not 
that a relation also, — the relation of an object to space ? If so, 
then the yardstick does not possess the quality of extension in 
itself, being as dependent for it upon space as gold is depen- 
dent for its value upon other commodities. But this is meta- 
physical and may lead us far ; therefore I do not insist, and 
p'ass on to a more important consideration. 

Second, J question whether the News's " countervailing 
difference between a standard of length and a standard of 
value " establishes all that it claims. In the supposed case 
of a bank loan secured by mortgage, the margin between the 
valuation and the obligation practically secures the note- 
holder against loss from a decline in the value of the security, 
but it does not secure him against loss from a decline in the 
value of the standard, or make it impossible for him to profit 
by a rise in the value of the standard. Suppose that a farmer, 
having a farm worth $5000 in gold, mortgages it to a bank as 
security for a loan of $2500 in notes newly issued by the bank 
against this farm. With these notes he purchases implements 

25^ iNSTEAfi OF A fiOOK. 

from a manufacturer. When the mortgage expires a year 
later, the borrower fails to to lift it. Meanwhile gold has 
declined in value. The farm is sold under the hammer, and 
brings, instead of $5000 in gold, $6000 in gold. Of this sum 
$2500 is used to meet the notes held by the manufacturer who 
took them a year before in payment for the implements sold 
to the farmer. Now, can the manufacturer buy back his 
implements with $2500 in gold ? Manifestly not, for by the 
hypothesis gold has gone down. Why, then, is not this 
manufacturer a sufferer from the variation in the standard of 
value, precisely as the man who buys cloth with a short yard- 
stick and sells it with a long one is a sufferer from the varia- 
tion in the standard of length ? The claim that a standard 
of value varies, and inflicts damage by its variations, is perfectly 
sound ; but the same is true, not only of the standard of value, 
but of every valuable commodity as well. Even if there were 
no standard of value and therefore no money, still nothing 
could prevent a partial failure of the wheat crop from enhanc- 
ing the value of every bushel of wheat. Such evils, so far as 
they arise from natural causes, are in the nature of inevitable 
disasters and must be borne. But they are of no force what- 
ever as an argument against the adoption of a standard of 
value. If every yardstick in existence, instead of constantly 
remaining thirty-six inches long, were to vary from day to day 
within the limits of thirty-five and thirty-seven inches, we 
should still be better off than with no yardstick at all. But it 
would be no more foolish to abolish the yardstick because of 
such a defect than it would be to abolish the standard of value, 
and therefore money, simply because no commodity can be 
found for a standard which is not subject to the law of supply 
and demand. 


[Liberty^ June 27, 1891.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

It is not only a delusion, but a misuse of language, to talk of a "stand- 
ard of value." Give us a standard of pain or pleasure, and you may 
convince us that there can be a "standard of value." I am well aware 
of the difficulty of discussing this question, even with so precise an editor 
as Mr. Tucker ; but since he has called in question the views presented 
in my pamphlet, I feel called upon to lay before the readers of Liberty 
some additional arguments to show the correctness of what Mr. Tucker 
has honored me by calling " the Westrup view." 


Let US Consider for a moment the practical workings of a Mutual Bank, 
as near as we can foretell them. 

The incentive to organize a Mutual Bank is the opportunity of borrow- 
ing money at a very low rate of interest and no additional expense. This 
desideratum is not confined to a few individuals, but is well-nigh uni- 
versal. It follows, therefore, that the starting of a bank will draw to it 
a large number of people, embracing producers and dealers in almost, 
perhaps all, commodities. One of the conditions in obtaining the notes 
(paper money) of the Mutual Bank is that they will be taken in lieu of 
current money without variation in the price of the commodities by those 
who borrow them. This condition is just, and will be readily acquiesced 
in without a murmur. At the very outset of the Mutual Bank, then, we 
have ^at least dealers in most of the ordinary commodities who will 
accept its money in place of current money. This certainty of its 
redemption' in commodities at their market-price in current money 
guarantees its circulation. 

Strictly speaking, the Mutual Bank does not issue the money ; it simply 
furnishes it and is the custodian of the collateral pledged to insure its re- 
turn. It is the borrowers who both issue and redeem. 

The transaction between the bank and the borrower is of no interest to 
the public previous to the issue of any of the money by the borrower. 
Neither is it concerned with the transaction between the borrower and the 
bank after the former has redeemed a\\ the money he borrowed. 

Discussing theories is far less important than efforts to put in practice 
such momentous reforms as the application of the mutual feature to the 
supply of the medium of exchange. If Comrade Tucker really desires the 
establishment of Mutual Banks, it seems to me he would naturally discuss 
the practicability of such institutions. Let him point out wherein the 
above forecast is unsound. Let him show the necessity for a " standard 
of value " and suggest how to introduce one ; perhaps I may become con- 
verted. I shall most surely acknowledge my error if I am convinced, but 
I have no time or inclination to discuss any abstract theory about a 
"standard of value." The one question that seems to me of importance 
is the practicability of the Mutual Bank. If it is not practicable, why is it 
not so ? If it is, why waste time and space in discussing whether the first 
or the second or any other commodity exchanged becomes the •" measure 
or standard of value " ; especially as "the whole trouble disappears with 
the abolition of the basis privilege." 

Alfred B. Westrup. 

Mr. Westrup's article sustains in the clearest manner my 
contention that money is impossible without a standard of 
value. Starting out to show that such a standard is a delu- 
sion, he does not succeed in writing four sentences descrip- 
tive of his proposed bank before he adopts that " delusion." 
He tells us that " one of the conditions in obtaining the notes 
(paper money) of the Mutual Bank is that they will be taken 
in lieu of current money." What does this mean ? Why, simply 
that the patrons of the bank agree to take its notes as the 
equivalent of gold coin of the same face value. In other 
words, they agree to adopt gold as a standard of value. They 
will part with as much property in return for the notes as they 


would part with in return for gold. And if there were no such 
standard, the notes would not pass at all, because nobody 
would have any idea of the amount of property that he ought 
to exchange for them. The «azw// with which Mr. Westrup 
gives away his case shows triumphantly the puerility of his 
raillery at the idea of a standard of value. 

Indeed, Comrade Westrup, I ask nothing better than to dis- 
cuss the practicability of mutual banks. All the work that I 
have been doing for liberty these nineteen years has been 
directed steadily to the establishment of the conditions that 
alone will make them practicable. I have no occasion to show 
the necessity for a standard of value. Such necessity is al- 
ready recognized by the people whom we are trying to con- 
vince of the truth of mutual banking. It is for you, who deny 
this necessity, to give your reasons. And in the very moment 
in which you undertake to tell us why you deny it, you admit 
it without knowing it. It would never have occurred to me to 
discuss the abstract theory of a standard of value. I regard 
it as too well settled. But when you, one of the most con- 
spicuous and faithful apostles of mutual banking, begin to bring 
the theory into discredit and ridicule by basing your argu- 
ments in its favor on a childish attack against one of the 
simplest of financial truths, I am as much bound to repudiate 
your heresy as an engineer would be to disavow the calcula- 
tions of a man who should begin an attempt to solve a difficult 
problem in engineering by denying the multiplication table. 

I fully recognize Mr. Westrup's. faithful work for freedom 
in finance and the ability with which he often defends it. In 
fact, it is my appreciation of him that has prevented nie from 
criticising his error earlier. I did not wish to throw any ob- 
stacle in the path or in any way dampen the enthusiasm of 
this ardent propagandist. But when I see that admirable 
paper, Egoism, of San Francisco, putting forward those writ- 
ings of Mr. Westrup which contain the objectionable heresy ;* 
and when I see that other admirable paper, The Herald of 
Anarchy, of London, led by his or similar ideas to advocate 
the issue of paper bearing on its face the natural prices of all 
commodities (!); and when I see Individualists holding Anar- 
chism responsible for these absurdities and on the strength of 
them making effective attacks upon a financial theory which, 
when properly defended, is invulnerable, — it seems high time 
to declare that the free and mutual banking advocated by 
Proudhon, Greene, and Spooner never contemplated for a 

* Egoism later saw its error, and recognized the necessity of a stand- 
ard of value. 


moment the desirability or the possibility of dispensing with a 
standard of value. If others think that a standard of value is 
a delusion, let them say so by all means; but let them not say 
so in the name of the financial theories and projects which the 
original advocates of mutual banking gave to the world. 


[Z/^^r/jj', June 18, 1892.] 

Natural science and technical skill, which have revolu- 
tionized so many things, may yet revolutionize political econ- 
omy, and in a way little dreamed of. It has long been known 
that the water of the ocean contains gold and silver. The 
percentage of these metals, however, is so very small that at 
first thought it hardly seems worth noticing. And as a matter 
of fact little notice has been taken of it, but principally for 
the reason that the extraction of the metals by any advan- 
tageous method has been deemed an impossibility. Now 
comes the Fairy Electricity, whose wand has already achieved 
so many wonders, and promises us a new miracle, which, 
though possibly less strange in itself than some others, will be 
more far-reaching in its results than all the telegraphs and 
telephones and railways imaginable. She proposes, by stretch- 
ing long series of iron plates across channels and through 
various parts of the seas and ocean and running an electric 
current though them, to precipitate the gold and silver from 
the water upon these plates. It is estimated that one-half of 
one horse power is all that is needed for the purpose, and that 
it will consequently be possible to get gold in this way at a 
cost equal to but one per cent, of its present value. 

But where does the revolution in political economy come 
in ? some one may ask. Does the connection seem remote to 
you, my thoughtless friend ? Then think a bit and listen. 
Every ton of sea-water contains half a grain of gold and a 
grain and a half of silver. Has that an insignificant sound ? 
If so, let us appeal to mathematics. We shall find that, at 
the rate of half a grain of gold and a grain and a half of silver 
to each ton of sea-water, the entire seas and oceans of the 
world (I take the figures from a scientific journal) contain 
21,595 billion tons of gold and 64,785 billion tons of silver. As 
good fish in the sea as ever were caught ? I should say so, 
an(J much better ! Why, this means, to speak at a venture, 


that there is several billion times as much gold in the water as 
has been extracted from the land up to date. Now, if this 
gold can be taken from the water, as is claimed, at the rate of 
a dollar's worth for a cent, soon it will be scarcely worth its 
weight in good rag-paper. The much defamed " rag baby " 
will be a very aristocratic personage beside it. In that case 
what will become of " the metal appointed by God in his good- 
ness to serve as the currency of the world"? Would it be 
possible to more thoroughly revolutionize political economy 
than by dethroning gold ? And could gold be more effectually 
dethroned than by reducing its value to insignificance ? Its 
monetary privilege would disappear instantly and of necessity, 
and the era of free money would dawn, with all the tremen- 
dous blessings, physical, mental, and moral, that must follow in 
its wake. As Proudhon well says: "The demonetization of 
gold, the last idol of the Absolute, will be the greatest act of 
the revolution of the future." 

All hail, then. Electricity ! On with your magnificent work! 
Lend a hand, you believers in dynamite; we offer you abetter 
saviour ! This good fairy is carrying on a " propaganda by 
deed " that discounts all your Ravachols. Success to her ! 
May she force gold, the last bulwark of Archism, to become, 
through offering itself for sacrifice on the altar of Liberty, the 
greatest of Anarchists, the final emancipator of the race ! 

Money, said Adam Smith, in one of those flashes of his in- 
tellectual genius which have so illuminated man's economic 
path, money is " a wagon-way through the air." If Electricity 
shall make of this wagon-way a railway, it will be the most 
signal, the most useful of her exploits. 


\Liherty^ August 13, 1892,] 

Apropos of my editorial of a few weeks ago, forecasting the 
probable increase in the supply of gold through its extraction 
from the ocean and the consequences thereof. Comrade Koop- 
man writes me : " If this is so, every craft that sails the ocean 
blue will carry an electrical centre-board to rake in the gold 
as it sails along. I am afraid, though, that the governments 
will betake themselves to platinum (I believe Russia tried it 
once) or some other figment, and so postpone their day of 
reckoning. But what a shaking-up a gold deluge will give 


them if it come ' I hope we may be there to see." If the 
present adherence lo gold were anything but a religion, there 
would be some ground for Comrade Koopman's fears. But, 
so far as the people is concerned, it is only a religion. To 
uproot the idea that gold is divinely appointed to serve as the 
money of the world is to destroy the godhead. In vain, after 
that, will the priests of plutocracy propose a change of deities. 
The people will say to them : " If you lied when you told us 
that gold was God, you are lying now when you place platinum 
on the celestial throne. No more idolatry for us ! Hence- 
forth all property shall stand on an equality before the Bank. 
In demonetizing gold we monetize all wealth." The Anarch- 
ists are fighting the old, old battle, — the battle of reason 
against superstition. In the earlier phases of this battle, 
science, after a time, re-enforced the philosophers and gave the 
finishing stroke in the demolition of the theological god. Per- 
haps it is reserved for science to similarly re-enforce the 
Anarchists in their task of smashing the last of the idols. Of 
this, however, I am not as hopeful as I was. A fact has lately 
come to light that fills me with misgiving. No sooner is it 
proposed to begin the extraction of gold and silver from the 
ocean by the new and cheap method than a man pops up in 
England to say that he patented this method a year or two 
ago. If his patent is valid (and I see nothing to the contrary), 
this man is virtual owner of the entire 21 billion tons of gold 
and 64 billion tons of silver which the ocean contains. All 
the priests and bishops and archbishops and cardinals of 
finance must kneel' to him as Pope. " Nearest, my God, to 
Thee," will be his hymn henceforth, or rather till some luckier 
individual shall discover a still cheaper way of securing the 
ocean's treasures and thereby become Pope in his stead. This 
one perfectly logical and appalling possibility ought to be suf- 
ficient in itself to sweep away as so much cobweb all the soph- 
istry that has ever been devised in support of property in 
ideas. Gold, after all, is not the last of the idols ; in mental 
property it has a twin. And my remaining hope is that science, 
with its new discovery, may do double duty as an iconoclast, 
and destroy them both at one fell stroke. 



\Liberty, November 23, 1889.] 

The most important book that has been published this year 
comes to Liberty from the press of the J. B. Lippincott Com- 
pany, of Philadelphia. It is a little volume of something over 
a hundred very small pages, printed from very large type. For 
ten years to come it probably will be read by one person 
where "Looking Backward" is read by a thousand, but the 
economic teaching which it contains will do more in the long 
run to settle the labor question than will ever be done by 
" Looking Backward," " Progress and Poverty," and " The Co- 
operative Commonwealth " combined. Its title is " Involun- 
tary Idleness : An Exposition of the Cause of the Discrep- 
ancy Existing between the Supply of, and the Demand for, 
Labor and Its Products." The book consists of a paper read 
at the meeting of the American Economic Association in 
Philadelphia on December 29, 1888, by Hugo Bilgram, the 
author of that admirable little pamphlet, " The Iron Law of 
Wages," with which most readers of Liberty are familiar. I 
am strongly inclined to hail Mr. Bilgram's new work as the 
best treatise on money and the relation of money to labor 
that has been written in the English language since Colonel 
William B. Greene published his " Mutual Banking." 

The author prefaces his essay with a very convenient and 
carefully prepared skeleton of his argument, which I repro- 
duce here, since it gives a much better idea of the book than 
any condensation that I might attempt : 

The aim of the treatise is to search for the cause of the lack of employ- 
ment, which is obviously due to the observed fact that the supply of com- 
modities and services exceeds the demand, although reason dictates that 
supply and demand in general should be precisely equal. The factor de- 
stroying this natural equation is looked for among the conditions that 
regulate the distribution of wealth, — i.e., its division into Rent, Interest, 
and Wages. 

The arguments evolved by the discussion of the Rent question, which 
of late has excited much public interest, being unable to account for the 
apparent surfeit of all kinds of raw materials, the topic of rent is elimi- 
nated by assuming all local advantages to be equal. 

At first an examination is made of the relation of capital to the pro- 
ductivity of labor, and that of interest on capital to the remuneration for 
labor, showing that high interest tends to reduce the productivity of, as 
well as the remuneration for, labor. Low wages being also concomitant 
with a scarcity of employment, it is inferred that a close relation exists be- 
Vween the economic cause of involuntary idleness and the law of Interest, 


Following this clue, the two separate meanings of the ambiguous word 
'•■ Capital" are compared, showing that money, which can never be used 
in the act of production, cannot be capital when that term is used in its 
concrete sense ; and since capital is capable of producing a profit only when 
the same is used productively, the fact that interest is paid for money- 
loans, when that which is loaned cannot be used productively, must be traced 
to an independent cause. The usual argument that with money actual 
capital can be purchased is rejected, because money and capital would not 
be interchangeable if their economic properties were not homogeneous. 
This compels a search for a property inherent in money that can account 
for the willingness of borrowers to pay interest on money-loans. 

It is then shown that interest on money-loans is paid because money 
affords special advantages as a medium of exchange, and the value of this 
property of money is traced to its ultimate utility, or, in other words, to 
the increment of productivity which the last addendum to the volume of 
money affords by facilitating the division of labor. 

Returning to the question of interest on actual capital, — i.e., the excess 
of value produced over the cost of production, — the question as to what 
determines the value of a product leads to the assertion that capital-profit 
must be due to an advantage which the producer possesses over the mar- 
ginal producer. This is found to be due to the interest payable by the 
marginal producer on money-loans. 

An ideal separation of the financial from the industrial world reveals a 
tendency of the industrial class to drift into bankruptcy by force of con- 
ditions over which they have no control. Those who are at the verge of 
bankruptcy being the marginal producers, others who are free of debt will 
reap a profit corresponding to the interest payable by the marginal pro- 
ducers on debts equal to the value of the capital they employ ; hence the 
rate of capital-profit will tend to become equal to the rate of interest pay- 
able on money-loans, and the power of money to command interest, in- 
stead of being the result, is in reality the cause of capital-profit. 

The inability of the debtor class to meet their obligations increases the 
risk of business investments, and the accumulation of money in the hands 
of the financial class depriving the channels of commerce of the needed 
medium of exchange, a stagnation of business will ensue, which readily 
accounts for the accumulation of all kinds of products in the hands of the 
producers and for the consequent dearth of employment. The losses sus- 
tained by the lenders of money involve a separation of interest into two 
branches, risk-premium and interest proper, and considering that the 
risk-premiums equal the sum total of all relinquished debts, the law of 
interest is evolved by an analysis of the monetary circulation between the 
debtors and creditors. 

This analysis leads to the inference that an expansion of the volume of 
money, by extending the issue of credit-money, will prevent business 
stagnation and involuntary idleness. 

The objections usually urged against credit-money are considered and 
found untenable, the claim that interest naturally accrues to capital is dis- 
puted at each successive stand-point, and in the concluding remarks an 
explanation is given of the present excess of supply over the demand of 
commodities and service, confirming the conclusion that the correction of 
this abnormal state is contingent upon the financial measure suggested. 

Admirably accurate as the foregoing is as an outline, it con- 
veys only a faint idea of the beautifully calm, logical, and 
convincing way in which the argument is worked out and sus- 


tained. It seems impossible that any unbiased mind should 
follow the author's reasoning carefully from the start to the 
finish and not accept the conclusion which he reaches in com- 
mon with Liberty, — namely, that our financial legislation is the 
real seat of the prevailing social disorder, and that the only 
way to secure remunerative employment to all who are able 
and willing to work is to abolish the restrictions upon the 
issue of money. 

Moreover, the author not only establishes the strength of 
his own position, but throws numerous and powerful side- 
lights upon the weaknesses of others. He shows the inade- 
quacy of Henry George's theory as an explanation of enforced 
idleness, the futility of protection, tariff reform, factory acts, 
and anti-immigration laws as measures of relief from stagna- 
tion of commerce, and the absurdity of the fiat-money theo- 
rists and all who hold with them that the value of money is 
dependent upon its volume. If Mr. Lloyd, who lately pro- 
posed the use of communistic credit-money, will get Mr. Bil- 
gram's book and carefully read pages 64-77 inclusive, I think 
he will be satisfied of the unsoundness of any credit-money 
system that does not specifically assure the ultimate redemp- 
tion of each note by value pledged for its security. 

Having thus declared my high appreciation of this book, I 
may add a word or two by way of criticism. The policy of 
the author in abandoning what he himself considers the true 
definition of the word capital and adopting the definition 
generally sanctioned by the economists is of very questionable 
utility. • It is true that he does not allow this confessed mis- 
use of a word to vitiate his argument, but it forces him never- 
theless to separate capital from money ; and thereby he 
strengthens the hold of the delusion which is exploited so 
effectively by the champions of interest, — namely, that in an 
exchange of goods for money the man who parts with the 
goods is deprived of capital while the man who parts with 
the money is not. If Mr. Bilgram had used the word capital 
to mean wjiat he thinks it means, — all wealth capable of 
bringing a revenue to its owner, — he would have deprived 
his opponents of their favorite device for confusing the popu- 
la:r mind. 

But this is a question of words only. It involves no differ- 
ence of idea between Mr. Bilgram and Liberty. On another 
point, however, there is substantial disagreement. When Mr. 
Bilgram proposes that the government shall carry on (and pre- 
sumably monopolize, though this is not clearly stated) the 
business of issuing money, it is hardly necessary to say that 


Liberty cannot follow him. It goes with him in his economy, 
but not in his politics. There are at least three valid reasons, 
and doubtless others also, why the government should do 
nothing of the kind. 

First, the government is a tyrant living by theft, and there- 
fore has no business to engage in any business. 

Second, the government has none of the characteristics of 
a successful business man, being wasteful, careless, clumsy, and 
short-sighted in the extreme. 

Third, the government is thoroughly irresponsible, having 
it in its power to effectively repudiate its obligations at any 

With these qualificatious Liberty gives Mr. Bilgram's book 
enthusiastic welcome. Its high price, $i.oo, will debar many 
from reading it ; but money cannot be expended more wisely 
than in learning the truth about money. 


\Liberty^ February 15, 1890.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

In view of the favorable criticism which "Involuntary Idleness" re- 
ceived at your hands, I gladly accept the invitation to state my reasons 
for advocating governmental management of the circulating medium, 
rather than free banking. 

My studies have led me to the conviction that mutual banking cannot 
deprive capital of its power to bring unearned returns to its owner. Re- 
ferring to my exposition of the monetary circulation between the financial 
and the industrial group, and the inevitable effects flowing from the power 
of money to bring a persistent revenue, it follows that a normal condition 
can only be attained if interest on money loans is reduced to the rate of 
risk, so that, in the aggregate, interest will just pay for the losses incurred 
by bad debts ; and this desideratum will not result from mutual banking. 

The members of such banks must no doubt be in some way assessed to 
defray the expenses and losses incurred by the banking associations, and 
these assessments are virtually interest payable for the loan of mutual 
money. While these rates are lower than the current rates of the money- 
lenders, the mutual banks will be more and more patronized, which will 
have a depressing effect on the current rate of interest. But the increase 
of membership will cease as soon as the current rate has adapted itself to 
the rate payable to the mutual banks. 

We must now assume that the assessments of the mutual banks are in 
substance equitably distributed among their members ; otherwise. Such 
banks cannot compete against others who have adopted the more 
equitable rules. These assessments must obviously cover not only the 
expenses of the banks, but also occasional losses ; and that such losses 
should be assessed in proportion to the rate of risk attached to the 


security each "borrower " offers for the faithful redemption of his obliga- 
tion requires here no explication. But other outlays, such as the making 
of the notes, together with all the attending expenses, must also be 
paid by the members of the mutual banks, and this increases the interest 
virtually payable by the borrowers beyond the rate of risk. Con- 
sequently competition will be incompetent to lower the current rate of 
interest to this desirable point. Money-lenders will therefore still be 
able to obtain an income from the mere loan of money, and capital v\ill 
continue to return interest to the wealthy. The germ of the inequitable 
congestion of wealth will still linger after the introduction of mutual 

At this point the question arises as to who should pay for that part of 
the expenses of the financial system that relates to the production of the 
money tokens. The answer is not difficult when it is considered that 
the benefit of the medium of exchange accrues to those who use it. 
They should contribute, as near as possible, in the proportion in which 
their handling wears the tokens, for in the long run the cost of produc- 
tion will virtually resolve itself into the cost of replacement. Not the 
borrowers, then, who as members of the mutual banks would be obliged 
to do so, but the people at large, in whose hands the money circulates, 
are in equity under the obligation of this expense. And to accomplish 
this I see no other way than for the people to instruct their representa- 
tives to make the notes at public expense, distribute them according to 
the demand, and charge no cost to the borrowers exceeding the rate of 
risk attached to the securities offered by them. 

I should of course never attempt to deny that mutual banking would 
be by far better than the present oppressive system. But the question 
at issue is between mutual banking, which would not remove but only 
mitigate the source of involuntary idleness, and a system involving a 
complete eradication of the cause of the discrepancy of the supply and 
the demand of commodities. My preference for the latter does, how- 
ever, not imply that any restrictions should be placed upon mutual 
banking ; such institutions could for obvious reasons not compete 
against the government institution, and would fail to find a suitable soil 
for their growth. 

Before concluding I also wish to meet the objection of the critic of 
" Involuntary Idleness " to the use of the word " Capital " in its con- 
crete sense. Having frequent occasion to refer to " labor products used 
for further production " in contradistinction to " money," I elected to 
use the shorter term " capital," especially as I had no need to refer, 
during the discussion, to its other and perhaps more appropriate meaning. 
I attempted to express thoughts, and made use of words as tools, the 
selection of which cannot commit me to any opinion. In fact, I am 
convinced that "Capital " in contradistinction to " Wealth " must lose 
its significance in either of its concepts as soon as the people learn to make 
honest laws. 

Yours truly, Hugo Bilgram. 
Philadelphia, January i8, i8go. 

Mr. Bilgram, then, if I understand him, prefers government 
banking to mutual banking, because with the former the rate 
of discount vi^ould simply cover risk, all banking expenses 
being paid out of the public treasury, while with the latter the 
rate of discount would cover both risk and banking expenses, 

MONEV ANU mtfiREST. ijfi? 

which in his opinion would place the burden of banking ex- 
penses upon the borrowers instead of upon the people. The 
answer to this is simple and decisive : the burden of discount, 
no matter what elements, many or few, may constitute it, falls 
ultimately, under any system, not on the borrowers, but on the 
people. Broadly speaking, all the interest paid is paid by 
the people. Under mutual banking the expenses of the banks 
would, it is true, be paid directly by the borrowers, but the 
latter would recover this from the people in the prices placed 
upon their products. And it seems to me much more scien- 
tific that the people should thus pay these expenses through 
the borrowers in the regular channels of exchange than that 
they should follow the communistic method of paying them 
through the public treasury. 

Mr. Bilgram's statement that money-lenders who," besides 
being compensated for risk, are compensated for their labor 
as bankers and for their incidental expenses " thereby obtain 
an income from the mere loan of money " is incomprehensible 
to me. He might just as well say that under government 
banking the officials who should receive salaries from the 
treasury for carrying on the business would thereby obtain an 
income from the mere loan of money. Under a free system 
the banker is as* simply and truly paid only the normal wage 
of his labor as is the official under a government system. 

But, since Mr. Bilgram does not propose to place any re- 
striction upon private banking, I have no quarrel with him. 
He is welcome to his opinion that private banking could not 
compete with the governmental institution. I stoutly .main- 
tain the contrary, and the very existence of the financial 
prohibitions is the best evidence that I am right. That which 
can succeed by intrinsic merit never seeks a legal bolster. 

I am agreeably disappointed. In challenging Mr. Bilgram 
on this point, I, knowing his intellectual acumen, had braced 
myself to withstand the most vigorous onslaught possible 
against Anarchism in finance, but it was a 'needless strain. 
Mr. Bilgram has struck me with a feather. 



\Liberty^ April ig, i8go.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

My rejoinder on your remarks on my last communication, in your 
issue of February 15, was unavoidably delayed. 

Above all, I must admit an omission in my exposition, but, since it was 
on both sides of the question, the result remains unaffected. I had paid 
no attention to the labor involved in making loans. Including this ad- 
mitted factor, my argument is this : The expenses of mutual banks may be 
divided into three categories, — i.e., risks, cost of making loans, and cost 
of making the tokens. These three items are represented in the interest 
payable by the patrons of such banks, and, while they determine the 
current rate of interest, those who lend money which they have acquired 
have to bear only two of these items, and will obtain interest composed 
of the three, and consequently receive pay for w6rk they have not per- 
formed. And capital having the power of bringing an unearned income 
as long as money is thus blessed, I still hold that justice is not attained 
until the gross interest is reduced to the rate of risk and cost of mak- 
ing loans, the cost of making the tokens being defrayed by public 

Itcannot be denied that "the burden of discount falls ultimately, not 
on the borrowers, but on the people" ; the trouble is that the people are 
compelled to pay more than this discount, and my desire is that they 
should cease to pay this excess which now falls into the hands of the 
owners of capital. 

Should the question of free banking become a political issue, I should 
heartily cooperate with you in furthering the object. But this does not 
prevent me from advocating a government issue, provided the borrowers 
are charged no more than risk and cost of making the loans, as a 
preferable measure. Yours truly, Hugo Bilgram. 

Philadelphia, March 31, i8go. 

To the above there are at least two ansvi'ers. The first is 
that that factor in the rate of interest which represents the 
cost of making tokens is so insignificant (probably less than 
one-tenth of one per cent., guessing at it) that the people 
could well afford (if there were no alternative) to let a few in- 
dividuals profit' to that extent rather than suffer the enormous 
evils that result from transferring enterprise from private 
to government control. I am not so enamored of absolute 
equality that I would sacrifice both hands rather than one 

The second answer is that no private money-lenders could, 
under a free system, reap even the small profit referred to. 
Mr. Bilgram speaks of " those who lend money which they 
have acquired." Acquired how ? Any money which they 
have acquired must have originated with issuers who paid the 
cost of making the tokens, and every time it has changed 


hands the burden of this cost has been transferred with it. 
Is it likely that men who acquire money by paying this cost 
will lend it to others without exacting this cost? If they 
should, they %vould be working for others for nothing, — a 
very different thing from "receiving pay for work they had 
not performed." No man can lend money unless he either 
issues it himself and pays the cost of making the tokens, or 
else buys or borrows it from others to whom he must pay 
that cost. 


{Liberty, December 13, 1884.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

The "Picket Duty" remarks of November 22 in regard to the importance 
of "free money" (with which I mainly agree) impel me to say a few 
words upon the subject. It is desirable, it seems to me, that Liberty 
should give its ideas upon that subject in a more systematic form than it 
has yet done (i). To be sure, it is easy for those who think to see that, 
if all laws in regard to money were abolished, commerce would readily 
provide its instruments of exchange. This might be promissory notes, or 
warehouse receipts, bills of lading, etc.; but, whatever it might be, the 
Anarchist could not doubt it would be better than that ever issued under 

Theoretically, at least, Liberty\izs expressed the idea that any circulat- 
ing medium should be made redeemable ; but in what? If in gold, or in 
gold and silver, does it not involve the principle of a legal tender, or of 
a tender of " common consent?" and they do not greatly differ (2). It 
seems to me that the great fraud in regard to money starts just here, 
and vitiates all forms of finance as of trade (3). I define money to be 
a commodity or representative of a commodity, accepted by or forced 
upon the common consent, asa» invariable ratio and medium of exchange. 
Now, since the price of all things else is variable and subject to extreme 
fluctuations, the dollar in exchange, and especially where the exchange 
is suspended as in borrowing, or buying on credit, becomes, as friend 
Pink suggests, a "war club" rather than a tool or instrument of 

Pardon me if I inflict some technicalities upon the readers of lAberty. 
I would discard the use of the word value from questions of exchange, or 
else divide its several parts, as value in use, value in service and compen- 
sation, and value in exchange. But ratio is a much better word. I 
would then define the Ratio of Utility to be the proportion in which any 
thing or service effects useful ends, in sustaining human life or adding to 
human enjoyment, —a constant Ratio. 

The Ratio of Service, the proportion in which different services, of the 
same duration in time, effect useftil ends. 

The Ratio of Exchange, the proportion in which one commodity or 
service will exchange for another service or commodity at the same time 
and place. This is a variable ratio, whose mean is the ratio of service. 


I cannot stop now to argue the correctness of these definitions. It 
must be seen, unless a commodity could be found which would answer 
every useful purpose, and could be readily obtained by all, it could not 
be made a tender without inflicting great injustice on the many. But as 
such commodity cannot be found, a commodity, gold, has been assumed 
to have an invariable value, although the most variable in value of all the 
metals, and about the least useful ; of a limited and irregular production 
and widely varying demand. With the addition of silver to the standard, 
the great injustice to labor is only divided, not changed. 

As defined above, the only invariable ratio is that of use. A pound of 
flour of the same quality will at all times and places satisfy the same de- 
mand for food. The hundredweight of coal will at all times and places 
give off the same amount of heat in combustion, etc., having no reference 
either to the money or labor cost. Now, since labor is the only thing 
which can procure or produce articles of use, that is naturally the con- 
trolling element in exchange, and the only thing that commands a stable 
price or furnishes a stable ratio. 

Though gold is assumed as the standard of value, it is well known that 
for ages the " promise to pay " this has constituted mainly the currency 
and medium of exchange of most nations. 

The method of issuing this promissory money has been a great injustice 
to industry, and its almost infinite extension of the usurpation of the gold- 
tender fraud is now robbing labor of a large share of its production by the 
control it gives to the usurer and speculator, who can make the rate low 
when produce is coming under their control, and high when it is being re- 
turned for use to the people ; and can make money scarce and dear when 
they loan it, and plenty and cheap when they gather it in. 

I think I have shown that the base of the money evil lies mainly in the 
monstrous assumption that the value of one of the most variable of things 
should be assumed to be an invariable quantity, and the standard of meas- 
urement of all other things. A gum elastic yardstick or gallon measure, 
or a shifting scale-beam, would suggest far more equitable dealing. 

I know of but one invariable standard, and that is labor ; but what is 
its unit? And by what method shall it be expressed? Can Liberty give 
us light upon this subject ? (4) I have yet seen no feasible method by 
which credit or debt can serve safely as money, nor any honest way in 
which fiat money can be put in circulation. It appears to me now 
that, while men seek credit, they will have to pay interest, and that only 
by restoring opportunity to those who are now denied it by our monopo- 
lies of land, of money, and of public franchises, and so relieving them of 
the necessity of borrowing, can we hope to mitigate the evils of our money 
and trade iniquities. (5) 

Credit being an incompleted exchange, in which one of the equivalents 
is not transferred, if we are to acknowledge it as an economic transaction, 
I see not why we should not accept that also where neither of the equiva- 
lents are transferred, as in produce and stock-gambling. (6) McLeod, I 
think, saw this dilemma, and therefore holds that the negotiable promis- 
sory note is payment for the things for which it is given. Yet, neverthe- 
less, at maturity it will require a transfer of the counterbalancing equiv- 
alent, just the same as if a mere book account. 

Credit is doubtless necessary under an inverted system of industry, 
finance, and trade ; but I am unable to see that it has any place in an honest 
state of things, except to conserve value, as where one puts things in an- 
other's care. It is vastly convenient, no doubt, for the profit-monger and 
speculator, as for the usurer, and witliout it neither could well thrive. In 

MiDisTEY AfJb interest:'. S7I 

agreeing with the Anarchists that the State should not interfere to prevent, 
regulate, or enforce credit contracts, perhaps I go beyond them in exclud- 
ing it from any economic recognition whatever, except as a means of con- 
serving goods from decay and depreciation, involving always a service for 
which the creditor should pay. 

J. K. Ingalls. 

(i) Liberty is published not so much to thoroughly inform its 
readers regarding the ideas which it advocates as to interest 
them to seek this thorough information through other chan- 
nels. For instance, in regard to free money, there is a book — 
" Mutual Banking," by William B. Greene — which sets forth 
the evils of money monopoly and the blessings of gratuitous 
credit in a perfectly plain and convincing way to all who will 
take the pains to study and understand it. Liberty can only 
state baldly the principles which Greene adyocates and hint 
at some of their results. Whomsoever such statements and 
hints serve to interest can and wiH secure the book of me for a 
small sum. Substantially the same views, presented in differ- 
ent ways, are to be found in the financial writings of Lysander 
Spooner, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Josiah Warren, and, above 
all, P. J. Proudhon, whose untranslated works contain untold 
treasures, which I hope some day to put within the reach of 
English readers. 

(2) Yes, it does involve one of these, but between the two 
there is all the difference that there is between force and free- 
dom, authority and liberty. And where the tender is one of 
"common consent," those who do not like it are at liberty to 
consent in common to use any other and better one that they 
can devise. 

(3) It is difficult for me to see any fraud in promising to 
pay a certain thing in a certain time, or on demand, and keeping 
the promise. That is what we do when we issue redeemable 
money and afterwards redeem it. The fraud in regard to 
money consists not in this, but in limiting by law the security 
for these promises to pay to a special kind of property, limited 
in quantity and easily monopolizable. 

(4) It is doubtful if there is anything more variable in its 
purchasing power than labor. The causes of this are partly 
natural, such as the changing conditions of production, and 
partly and principally artificial, such as the legal monopolies 
that impart fictitious values. But labor expended in certain 
directions is unquestionably more constant in its average re- 
sults than when expended in other directions. Hence the ad- 
vantage of using the commodities resulting from the former for 
the redemption of currency whenever redemption shall be de- 

4(/2 INSTEAD 6i? A fedOK. 

manded. Whether gold and silver are among these commd- 
dities is a question, not of principle, but of statistics. As a 
matter of fact, the holders of good redeemable money seldom 
ask for any other redemption than its acceptance in the mar- 
ket and its final cancellation by the issuer's restoration of the 
securities on which it was issued. But in case any other re- 
demption is desired, it is necessary to adopt for the purpose 
some commodity easily transferable and most nearly invariable 
in value. 

(5) Does Mr. Ingalls mean that all money must be abolished ? 
I can see no other inference from his position. For there 
are only two kinds of money, — commodity money and credit 
money. The former he certainly does not believe in, the 
latter he thinks fraudulent and unsafe. Are we, then, to stop 
exchanging the products of our labor ? 

(6) It is clearly the right of every man to gamble if he 
chooses to, and he has as good a right to make his bets on the 
rise and fall of grain prices as on anything else ; only he must 
not gamble with loaded dice, or be allowed special privileges 
whereby he can control the price of grain. Hence, in a free 
and open market, these transactions where neither equiva- 
alent is transferred are legitimate enough. But they are un- 
wise, because, apart from the winning or losing of the bet, 
there is no advantage to be gained from them. Transactions, 
on the other hand, in which only one equivalent is immedi- 
ately transferred are frequently of the greatest advantage, as 
they enable men to get possession of tools which they imme- 
diately need, but cannot immediately pay for. Of course the 
promise to pay is liable to be more or less valuable at ma- 
turity than when issued, but so is the property originally 
transferred. The borrower is no more exempt than the 
lender from the variations in value. And the interests of the 
holder of property who neither borrows nor lends is also just 
as much affected by them. There is an element of chance in 
all property relations. So far as this is due to monopoly and 
privilege, we must do our best to abolish it ; so far as it is 
natural and inevitable, we must get along with it as best we can, 
but not be frightened by it into discarding credit and money, 
the most potent instruments of association and civilization. 



ILiierty, March 27, 1886.] 

J. M. M'Gregor, a writer for the Detroit Labor Leaf, thinks 
free land the chief desideratum. And yet he acknowledges 
that the wage-worker can't go from any of our manufactur- 
ing centres to the western lands, because " such a move 
would involve a cash outlay of a thousand dollars, which he 
has not got, nor can he get it." It would seem, then, that 
free land, though greatly to be desired, is not as sorely needed 
here and now as free capital. And this same need of capital 
would be equally embarrassing if the eastern lands were free, 
for still more capital would be required to stock and work a 
farm than the wage-worker can command. Under our present 
money system he could not even get capital by putting up his 
farm as collateral, unless he would agree to pay a rate of in- 
terest that would eat him up in a few years. Therefore, free 
land is of little value to labor without free capital, while free 
capital would be of inestimable benefit to labor even if land 
should not be freed for some time to come. For with it labor 
could go into other industries on the spot and achieve its inde- 
pendence. Not free land, then, but free money is the chief 
desideratum. It is in the perception of this prime importance 
of the money question that the greenbackers, despite their ut- 
terly erroneous solution of it, show their marked superiority to 
the State Socialists and the land nationalizationists. 

The craze to get people upon the land is one of the insan- 
ities that has dominated social reformers ever since social re- 
form was first thought of. It is a great mistake. Of agricul- 
ture it is as true as of every other industry that there should 
be as few people engaged in it as possible, — that is, just enough 
to supply the world with all the agricultural products which 
it wants. The fewer farmers there are, after this point of 
necessary supply is reached, the more useful people there are 
to engage in other industries which have not yet reached this 
point, and to devise and work at new industries hitherto un- 
thought of. It is altogether likely that we have too many 
farmers now. It is not best that any more of us should be- 
come farmers, even if every homestead could be made an 
Arcadia. The plough is very well in its way, and Arcadia was 
very well in its day. But the way of the plough is not as wide 
as the world, and the world has outgrown the day of Arcadia. 
Human life henceforth is to be, not a simple, but a complex 

if 4 mfetEAD OF A BOOK. 

thing. The wants and aspirations of mankind are daily mul- 
tiplying. They can be satisfied only by the diversification of 
industry, which is the method of progress and the record of 
civilization. This is one of the great truths which Lysander 
Spooner has so long been shouting into unwilling ears. But 
the further diversification of industry in such a way as to bene- 
fit, no longer the few and the idle, but the many and the 
industrious, depends upon the control of capital by labor. 
And this, as Proudhon, Warren, Greene, and Spooner have 
shown, can be secured only by a free money system. 


[Liierly, May i, 1886.] 

In answer to my article, " Free Money First," in Liberty of 
March 27, in which was discussed the comparative impor- 
tance of the money and land questions, J. M. M'Gregor, of 
the Detroit Labor Leaf, says : " I grant free money first. I 
firmly believe free money will come first, too, though my 
critic and myself may be widely at variance in regard to what 
would constitute free money." I mean by free money the 
utter absence of restriction upon the issue of all money not 
fraudulent. If Mr. M'Gregor believes in this, I am heartily 
glad. I should like to be half as sure as he is that it really is 
coming first. From the present temper of the people it looks 
to me as if nothing free would come first. They seem to be 
bent on trying every form of compulsion. In this current Mr. 
M'Gregor is far to the fore with his scheme of land taxation 
on the Henry George plan, and although he may believe free 
money will be first in time, he clearly does not consider it first 
in importance. This last-mentioned priority he awards to 
land reform, and it was his position in that regard that my 
article was written to dispute. 

The issue between us, thus confined, hangs upon the truth 
or falsity of Mr. M'Gregor's statement that " to-day landlord- 
ism, through rent and speculation, supports more idlers than 
any other system of profit-robbing known to our great common- 
wealth." I take it that Mr. M'Gregor, by "rent," means 
ground-rent exclusively, and, by the phrase " supports more 
idlers," means takes more from labor ; otherwise, his state- 
ment has no pertinence to his position. For all rent except 
ground-rent would be almost entirely and directly abolished 


by free money, and the evil of rent to labor depends, not so 
much on the number of idlers it supports, as on the aggregate 
amount and quality of support it gives them, whether they be 
many or few in number. Mr. M'Gregor's statement, then, 
amounts to this : that ground-rent takes more from labor than 
any other form of usury. It needs no statistics to disprove 
this. The principal forms of usury are interest on money 
loaned or invested, profits made in buying and selling, rent of 
buildings of all sorts, and ground-rent. A moment's reflection 
will show any one that the amount of loaned or invested capi- 
tal bearing interest in this country to-day far exceeds in value 
the amount of land yielding rent. The item of interest alone 
is a much more serious burden on the people than that of 
ground-rent. Much less, then, does ground-rent equal interest 
p/us profit plus rent of buildings. But to make Mr. M'Gregor's 
argument really valid it must exceed all these combined. For 
a true money reform, I repeat, would abolish almost entirely 
and directly every one of these forms of usury except ground- 
rent, while a true land reform would directly abolish only 
ground-rent. Therefore, unless labor pays more in ground-rent 
than in interest, profit, and rent of buildings combined, the 
money question is of more importance than the land question. 
There are countries where this is the case, but the United States 
is not one of them. 

It should also be borne in mind that free money, in destroy- 
ing the power to accumulate large fortunes in the ordinary 
industries of life, will put a very powerful check upon the 
scramble for corner-lots and other advantageous positions, and 
thereby have a considerable influence upon ground-rent itself. 

" How can capital be free," asks Mr. M'Gregor, " when it 
cannot get rid of rent ? " It cannot be entirely free till it can 
get rid of rent ; but it will be infinitely freer if it gets rid of 
iriterest, profit, and rent of buildings and still keeps ground- 
rent than if it gets rid of ground-rent and keeps the other 
forms of usury. Give us free money, the first great step to 
Anarchy, and we'll attend to ground-rent afterwards. 



\_Liierty, June 28, 1884.] 

The persistent way in which Greenbackers dodge argument 
on the money question is very tiresome to a reasoning mortal. 
Let an Anarchist give a Green backer his idea of a good cur- 
rency in the issue of which no government has any part, and it 
is ten to one that he will answer: " Oh, that's not money. It 
isn't legal tender. Moiiey is that thing which the supreme 
law of the land declares to be legal tender for debts in the 
country where that law is supreme." 

Brick Pomeroy made such an answer to Stephen Pearl 
Andrews recently, and appeared to think that he had said 
something final. Now, in the first place, this definition is not 
correct, for that is money which performs the functions of 
money, no matter who issues it. But even if it were correct, 
of what earthly consequence could it be ? Names are nothing. 
Who cares whether the Anarchistic currency be called money 
or something else ? Would it make exchange easy ? Would 
it make production active ? Would it measure prices accu- 
rately ? Would it distribute wealth honestly? Those are the 
questions to be asked concerning it ; not whether it meets 
the arbitrary definition adopted by a given school. A system 
of finance capable of supplying a currency satisfying the above 
requirements is a solution of what is generally known as the 
money question ; and Greenbackers may as well quit now as 
later trying to bind people to this fact by paltry quibbling 
with words. 

But after thus rebuking Brick Pomeroy's evasion of Mr. 
Andrews, something needs to be said in amendment of Mr. 
Andrews's position as stated by him in an admirable article 
on " The Nature of Money," published in the New York 
Truth Seeker of March 8, 1884. Mr. Andrews divides the 
properties of money into essentials, incidentals, and acciden- 
tals. The essential properties of money, he says, — those in 
the absence of which it is not money whatever else it may 
have, and in the possession of which it is money whatever else 
it may lack, — are those of measuring mutual estimates in an 
exchange, recording a commercial transaction, and inspiring 
confidence in a promise which it makes. All other properties 
of money Mr. Andrews considers either incidental or acciden- 
tal, and among the accidental properties he mentions the 


security or " collateral " which may back up and guarantee 

Now as an analysis made for the purpose of arriving at a 
definition, this is entirely right. No exception can be taken 
to it. But it is seriously to be feared that nearly every person 
who reads it will infer that, because security or "collateral" 
is an accidental feature of money, it is an unimportant and 
well-nigh useless one. And that is where the reader will make 
a great mistake. It is true that money is money, with or with- 
out security, but it cannot be a perfect or reliable money in 
the absence of security ; nay, it cannot be a money worth con-_ 
sidering in this age. The advance from barter to unsecured 
money is a much shorter and less important step logically than 
that from unsecured money to secured money. The rude 
vessel in which 'primitive men first managed to float upon the 
water very likely had all the essentials of a boat, but it was 
much nearer to no boat at all than it was to the stanch, 
swift, and sumptuous Cunarder that now speeds its way across 
the Atlantic in a week. It was a boat, sure enough ; but not 
a boat in which a very timid or even moderately cautious 
man would care to risk his life in more than five feet of 
water beyond swimming distance from the shore. It had 
all the essentials, but it lacked a great many accidentals. 
Among them, for instance, a compass. A compass is not 
an essential of a boat, but it is an essential of satisfactory 
navigation. So security is not an essential of money, but 
it is an essential of steady production and stable commerce. 
A boat without a compass is almost sure to strike upon 
the rocks. Likewise money without security is almost sure 
to precipitate the people using it into general bankruptcy. 
When products can be had for the writing of promises and the 
idea gels abroad that such promises are good money whether 
kept or not, the promisors are very likely to stop producing ; 
and, if the process goes on long enough, it will be found at the 
end that there are plenty of promises with which to buy, but 
that there is nothing left to be bought, and that it will require 
an infinite number of promises to buy an infinitesimal amount 
of nothing. If, however, people find that their promises will 
not be accepted unless accompanied by evidence of an inten- 
tion and ability to keep them, and if this evidence is kept 
definitely before all through some system of organized credit, 
the promisors will actively bestir themselves to create the 
means of keeping their promises; and the free circulation of 
these promises, far from checking production, will vastly stim- 
ulate it, the result being, not bankruptcy, but universal wealth. 


A money thus secured is fit for civilized people. Any other 
money, though it have all the essentials, belongs to barbarians, 
and is hardly fit to buy the Indian's dug-out. 


\lAherty^ June 7, i8go.] 

The introduction in congress by Leland Stanford of a bill 
proposing to issue one hundred millions or more of United 
States notes to holders of agricultural land, said notes to be 
secured by first mortgages on such land and to bear two per 
cent, interest, is one of the most notable events of- this time, 
and its significance is increased by the statement of Stanford, 
in his speech supporting the bill, that its provisions will 
probably be extended ultimately to other kinds of property. 
This bill is pregnant with the economics (not the politics) of 
Anarchism. It contains the germ of the social revolution. It 
provides a system of governmental mutual banking. If it 
were possible to honestly and efficiently execute its provisions, 
it would have only to be extended to other kinds of property 
and to gradually lower its rate of interest from two per cent, 
(an eminently safe figure to begin with) to one per cent., or 
one half of one per cent., or whatever figure might be found 
sufficient to cover the cost of operating the system, in order 
to steadily and surely transfer a good three-fourths of the in- 
come of idle capitalists to the pockets of the wage-workers of 
the country. The author of this bill is so many times a mil- 
lionaire that, even if every cent of his income were to be cut 
off, his principal would still be sufficient to support his family 
for generations to come, but it is none the less true that he 
has proposed a measure which, with the qualifications already 
specified, would ultimately make his descendants either pau- 
pers or toilers instead of gigantic parasites like himself. In 
short, Leland Stanford has indicated the only blow (consid- 
ered solely in its economic aspect) that can ever reach capital- 
ism's heart. From his seat in the United States Senate he 
has told the people of this country, in effect, that the funda- 
mental economic teaching reiterated by Liberty from the day 
of its first publication is vitally true and sound. 

Unhappily his bill is vitiated by the serious defect of 
governmentalism. If it had simply abolished all the restric- 
tions and taxes on banking, and had empowered all indi- 


viduals and associations to do just what its passage would em- 
power the government to do, it would not only have been 
significant, but, adopted by congress, it would have been the 
most tremendously and beneficially effective legislative mea- 
sure ever recorded on a statute book. But, as it is, it is made 
powerless for good by the virus of political corruption that 
lurks within it. The bill, if passed, would be entrusted for 
execution either to the existing financial cabal or to some 
other that would become just as bad. All the beneficent 
results that, as an economic measure, it is calculated to 
achieve would be nearly counteracted, perhaps far more than 
counteracted, by the cumulative evils inherent in State ad- 
ministration. It deprives itself, in advance, of the vitalizing 
power of free competition. If the experiment should be tried, 
the net result would probably be evil. It would fail, disas- 
trously fail, and the failure and disaster would be falsely and 
stupidly attributed to its real virtue, its econotnic character. For 
perhaps another century free banking would have to bear the 
odium of the evils generated by a form of governmental bank- 
ing more or less similar to it economically. Some bad name 
would be affixed to the Stanford notes, and this would replace 
the assignat, the " wild cat," and the " rag baby," as a more 
effective scarecrow. It would unendurably prolong the bray 
of those financial asses of whom the most recent typical 
example is furnished in the person of General M. M. Trumbull, 
of Chicago.* 

While hoping, then, that it may never pass, let us never- 
theless make the most of its introduction by using it as a text 
in our educational work. This may be done in one way- by 
showing its economic similarity to Anarchistic finance and by 
disputing the astounding claim of originality put forward by 
Stanford. In his Senate speech of May 23, he said : " There 
is no analogy between this scheme for a government of 
65,000,000 people, with its boundless resources, issuing its 
money, secured directly by at least $2 for f i, on the best pos- 

* At the time when this was written General Trumbull had just been 
guilty, and not for the first time, of stupidly confusing mutual money with 
fiat money, and as his ignorance of the difference between them was ut- 
terly without excuse and yet was given voice in that tone of superiority 
which ignorance is wont to assume, it seemed proper to administer this 
rebuke, which, though conceded to be just by some of General Trumbull's 
best friends, was considered by others unduly severe. The writer is not 
behind these last in his admiration of General Trumbull as a man and a 
thinker. As a publicist he is usually and unusually witty and wise; only 
when discussing finance does he utter absurdities that justify the epithet 
9,bove applied, 


sible security that could be desired, and any other financial 
proposition that has ever been suggested." If Stanford said 
this honestly, his words show him to be both an intellectual 
pioneer and a literary laggard. More familiarity with the 
literature of the subject would show him that he has had 
several predecessors in this path. Col. William- B. Greene 
used to say of Lysander Spooner's financial proposals that 
their only originality lay in the fact that he had taken out a 
patent on them. The only originality of Stanford's lies in 
the fact that it is made for a government of 65,000,000 of 
people. For governments of other sizes the same proposal 
has been made before. Parallel to it in all essentials, both 
economically and politically, are Proudhon's Bank of Ex- 
change and the proposal of Hugo Bilgram. Parallel to it 
economically are Proudhon's Bank of the People, Greene's 
Mutual Banks, and Spooner's real estate mortgage banks. 
And the financial thought that underlies it is closely paralleled 
in the writings of Josiah Warren, Stephen Pearl Andrews, and 
John Ruskin. If Stanford will sit at the feet of any of these 
men for a time, he will rise a wiser and more modest man. 

Like most serious matters, this affair has its amusing side. 
It is seen in the idolization of Stanford by the Greenbackers. 
This shows how ignorant these men are of their own principles. 
Misled by the resemblance of the proposed measure to Green- 
backism in some incidental respects, they hurrah themselves 
hoarse over the California senator, blissfully unaware that his 
bill is utterly subversive of the sole essential of Greenbackisra, 
— namely, the fiat idea. The Greenbacker is distinguished 
from all other men in this and only in this, — that in his eyes a 
dollar is a dollar because the government stamps it as such. 
Now in Stanford's eyes a dollar is a dollar because it is based 
upon and secured by a specific piece of property that will sell 
in the market for at least a certain number of grains of gold. 
Two- views more antagonistic than these it would be impos- 
sible to cite. And yet the leading organs of Greenbackism 
apparently regard them as identical. 



[Liberty, July 16, 1887 ] 

In a long reply to Edward Atkinson's recent address before 
the Boston Labor Lyceum, Henry George's Standard impairs 
the effect of much sound and effective criticism by the follow- 
ing careless statement : 

Mr. Atkinson does not even know the nature of his own business. 
He told his audience that his "regular work is t8 stop the cotton and 
woollen mills from being burned up." This is a grave blunder. Fire in- 
surance companies are engaged in distributing losses by fire among the 
insured. As a statistician he knows that statistics show that in New 
Hampshire, when that State was boycotted by the insurance companies, 
the number of fires was reduced by thirty per cent. He does not save 
buildings from fire. 

This is a gross slander of one of the most admirable institu- 
tions in America, — none the less admirable in essence because 
it happens in this instance to exist for the benefit of the cap- 
italists. Mr. George unwarrantably assumes that Mr. Atkinson 
is engaged in an insurance business of the every-day sort. This 
is far from true. He is the president of an insurance com- 
pany doing business on a principle which, if it should be 
adopted in the banking business, would do more to abolish 
poverty than all the nostrums imagine'd or imaginable, includ- 
ing the taxation of land values. 'This principle is the mutu- 
alistic, or cost, principle. 

Some time ago a number of mill-owners decided that they 
would pay no more profits to insurance companies, inasmuch 
as they could insure themselves much more advantageously. 
So they formed a company of their own, into the treasury of 
which each mill pays annually a sum proportional to the 
amount for which it wishes to insure, receiving it back at the 
end of the year minus its proportion of the year's losses by 
fire paid by the company and of the cost of maintaining the 
company. It is obvious that by the adoption of this plan the 
mills would have saved largely, even if fires had continued to 
occur in them as frequently as before. But this is not all. By 
mutual agreement the mills place themselves, so far as protec- 
tion against fire is concerned, under the supervision of the in- 
surance company, which keeps inspectors to see that each mill 
avails itself of all the best means of preventing and extin- 
guishing fire, and uses the utmost care in the matter. As a 
consequence the nurnber of fires and the aggregate damage 


caused thereby has been reduced in a degree that would 
scarcely be credited ; the cost of insurance to these mills is 
now next to nothing, and this cost might be reduced still fur- 
ther by cutting down an enormous salary paid to Mr. Atkin- 
son for services which not a few persons more industrious and 
capable than he are ready to perform for less money. Mr. At- 
kinson's insurance company, then, does save buildings from 
fire, and Mr. George's statement that it does not is as reckless 
as anything that Mr. Atkinson ever said to prove that the 
laboring man is an inhabitant of Paradise. 

Moreover, it is the height of stupidity for any champion of 
labor to slur this insurance company, for it contains in gerrri 
the solution of the labor question. When workingmen and 
business men shall be allowed to organize their credit as these 
mill-owners have organized their insurance, the former will 
pay no more tribute to the credit-monger than the latter pay 
to the insurance-monger, and the one class will be as safe from 
bankruptcy as the other is from fire. Yet Mr. Atkinson, whose 
daily life should keep this truth perpetually before his mind, 
pretends that the laborer can achieve the social revolution by 
living on beef -bones and using water-gas as fuel. Can any one 
think him sincere ? 


[Lidcr/y^ Ja^nuary 10, 1891.] 

The great central principle of Anarchistic economics — 
namely, the dethronement of gold and silver from their posi- 
tion of command over all other wealth by the destruction of 
their monopoly currency privilege — is rapidly forging to the 
front. The Farmers' Alliance sub-treasury scheme, unscien- 
tific and clumsy as it is, is a glance in this direction. The im- 
portance of Senator Stanford's land bill, more scientific and 
workable, but incomplete, and vicious because governmental, 
has already been emphasized in these columns. But most 
notable of all is the recent revolution in the financial attitude 
of Edward Atkinson, the most orthodox and cock-sure of 
American economists, who now swells with his voice the grow- 
ing demand for a direct representation of all wealth in the 

In a series of articles in Bradstreet's and in an address be- 
fore the Boston Boot and Shoe Club, this old-time foe of all 


paper money not based on specie ; this man who, fifteen or 
twenty years ago, stood up in the town hall of Brookline in a 
set debate with Col. Wm. B. Greene to combat the central 
principle of Mutual Banking ; this boor, who has never lost an 
opportunity of insulting "Anarchism and Anarchists, — now 
comes forward to save the country with an elaborate financial 
scheme which he offers as original with himself, but which has 
really been Anarchistic thunder these many years, was first put 
forward in essence by Proudhon, the father of Anarchism, and 
was championed by Atkinson's old antagonist, Col. Wm. B. 
Greene, to the end of his life. Of course, all the papers are 
talking about it, and, on the principle that " everything goes" 
that comes from the great Atkinson, most of them give it a 
warm welcome, though precious few of them understand what 
it means. Those which probably do understand, like the New 
York Evening Post, content themselves for the present with a 
mild protest, reserving their heavier fire to be used in case 
the plan should seem likely to gain acceptance. 

The proposal is briefly this : that the national banks of the 
country shall be divided into several districts, each district 
having a certain city as a banking centre ; that any bank may 
deposit with the clearing-house securities satisfactory to the 
clearing-house committee, and receive from the clearing-house 
certificates in the form of bank-notes of small denominations, 
to the extent of seventy-five per cent, of the value of the secu- 
rities ; that these notes shall bear the bank's promise to pay 
on the back, and shall be redeemable on demand at the bank 
in legal-tender money, and, in case of failure on the bank's 
part to so redeem them, they shall be redeemable at the clear- 
ing-house ; and that this new circulating medium shall be ex- 
empt from the ten per cent, tax imposed upon State bank 

Of course a scheme like this would not work the economic 
revolution which Anarchism expects from free banking. It 
does not destroy the monopoly of the right to bank ; it retains 
the control of the currency in the hands of a cabal ; it under- 
takes the redemption of the currency in legal-tender money, 
regardless of the fact that, if any large proportion of the 
country's wealth should become directly represented in the 
currency, there would not be sufficient legal-tender money to re- 
deem it. It is dangerous in its feature of centralizing responsi- 
bility instead of localizing it, and it is defective in less impor- 
tant respects. I call attention to it and welcome it, because 
here for the first time Proudhon's doctrine of the republican- 
ization of specie is soberly championed by a recognized econo. 


mist. This fact alone makes it an important sign of the 

I am surprised that its importance has not been fully appre- 
ciated by the Galveston News, which journal alone among the 
great dailies of the country is an exponent of rational finance. 
Its editor, in noticing Atkinson's scheme, instead of pointing 
out its introduction of a revolutionary principle, remarks that 
" the one infallible way to reach the ideal of a sound system 
of organized credit is to reach the ideal of a population cor- 
respondingly sound in character and intellect." This philis- 
tine utterance I hardly expected from such a quarter. It is 
undoubtedly true that a considerable degree of character and 
intellect is necessary to the successful organization of credit. 
But this truth is now a truism. There is another truth, not a 
truism, for the inculcation of which there is pressing need, — 
that credit, once organized, will do as much to develop charac- 
ter and intellect as the development of character and intellect 
ever did to organize credit. It was this truth, and the impor- 
tant bearing that the monetization of all wealth would have 
upon it, that I expected to see emphasized by the Galveston 
News in its comments upon Atkinson's proposal. I hoped 
and still hope, to hear it rejoice with Liberty that the man 
whose solutions of the labor problem have consisted mainly 
of nine-dollar suits and ten-cent meals and patent ovens has 
at last broached a measure that, instead of being beneath con- 
tempt, is worthy of profound consideration. 


[Liberty, August 9, 1884.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

In Liberty of June 28 you refer to a writer in the Essex Statesman, of 
wliona you say that he "gets down to bottom truth " on the tariff ques- 
tion by averring that " Free iVIoney " and " Free Trade '' are corollaries 
of each other. 

Every Greenbacker (I am one) of brains perceived this simple (I might 
say axiomatic) doctrine the moment he thought at all on it. 

Monopoly of money is through interest ; monopoly of trade is through 
taxing (tariffs) : so, if you would overthrow all monopoly, you have only 
to secure currency unloaded with interest, and their doom is recorded. 

There is no more rational reformer in existence than the "Green- 
backer" who is a Greenbacker in the only rational sense of the word, — 
that is, a believer in " a non-interest-bearing currency." 

It is amusing, this prating of " secured money " I Liberty ought to see 

M6n£y and interest. 2§5 

that a currency " based " on any " security " other than its inherent func- 
tion and non-discountableness would rob those who used it. 

If the whole community co-operate in its issue and use, and "fix" no 
limit to its quantity or use, such currency would be perfect as to all 
qualities, and rob none ; and such money is "full legal tender" under 
any name you choose to label it. 

As I have taught this doctrine for more than ten years, I hope you will 
give a corner to this brief " brick " in Liberty. 

E. H. Benton. 
Wells Mills (Geere), Neb., July, 1884. 

I have given Mr. Benton his " corner," and I think he will 
have difficulty in getting out of it. Let me suppose a case 
for him. A is a farmer, and owns a farm worth five thousand 
dollars. B keeps q. bank of issue, and is known far and wide 
as a cautious and honest business man. C, D, E, etc., down 
to Z are each engaged in some one of the various pursuits of 
civilized life. A needs ready money. He mortgages his farm 
to B, and receives in return B's notes, in various denomina- 
tions, to the amount of five thousand dollars, for which B 
charges A this transaction's just proportion of the expenses of 
running the bank, which would be a little less than one-half 
of one per cent. With these notes A buys various products 
which he needs of C, D, E, etc., down to Z, who in turn with 
the same notes buy products of each other, and in course of 
time come back to A with them to buy his farm produce. A, 
thus regaining possession of B's notes, returns them to B, who 
then cancels his mortgage on A's farm. All these parties, 
from A to Z, have been using for the performance of innumer- 
able, transactions B's notes based on A's farm, — that is, a cur- 
rency based on some security " other than its inherent func- 
tion and non-discountableness." They were able to perform 
them only because they all knew that the notes were thus 
secured. A knew it because he gave the mortgage ; B knew 
it because he took the mortgage ; C, D, E, etc., down to Z 
knew it because they knew that B never issued notes unless 
they were secured in this or some similar way. Now, Liberty 
is ready to see, as Mr. Benton says it ought to see, that any or 
all of these parties have been robbed by the use of this money 
when Mr. Benton shall demonstrate it by valid fact and argu- 
ment. Until then he must stay in his corner. 

A word as to the phrase " legal tender." That only is legal 
tender which the government prescribes as valid for the dis- 
charge of debt. Any currency not so prescribed is not legal 
tender, no matter how universal its use or how unlimited its 
issue, and to label it so is a confusion of terms. 

Another word as to the term " Greenbacker." He is a 


Greenbackef who subscribes to the platfotffl Of the Greenback 
party. The cardinal principle of that platform is that the 
government shall monopolize' the manufacture of money, and 
that any one who, in rebellion against that sacred prerogative, 
may presume to issue currency on his own account shall 
therefor be taxed, or fined, or imprisoned, or hanged, or drawn 
and quartered, or submitted to any other punishment Or tort- 
ure which the government, in pursuit and exercise of its good 
pleasure, may see fit to impose upon him. Unless Mr. Benton 
believes in that, he is not a Greenbacker, and I am sure I am 
not, although, with Mr. Benton, I believe in a non-interest- 
bearing currency. 


{Liberty, December i, 1888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

I understand that the monopoly of money should be broken, and this 
would leave all persons who possessed property free to issue solvent notes 
thereon, the competition between them so reducing the rate of interest 
that it would enable woiild-be business people to borrow on advantageous 
terms. Now, to my mind this would do no good unless the new order of 
benefited business persons adopted the " Cost principle " in production 
and distribution, in order to break down the present bad arrangements in 
society that is composed of workers on one side and idlers and unproduc- 
tive or useless persons on the other side. 

If the cost principle was not in view, the result to my mind of " plentiful 
money " would only lead to a short briskness of trade and a speedy break- 
down, — much speedier than now. 

Neither do I think (in the absence of applying the cost principle) that 
competition among bankers would bring the issue down to cost through 
the sheer force of competition, because people would cease to go into the 
banking business if it did not yield the normal rate of interest on capital. 

In conclusion, I must say I believe in the " Cost principle," and yet as 
an Anarchist there seems something arbitrary in it. It is the reconcilia- 
tion of "Cost" and competition that my mind cannot yet grasp. 

Yours faithfully, Frank A. Matthews. 

The Cost principle cannot fail to seem arbitrary to one who 
does not see that it can only be realized through economic 
processes that go into operation the moment liberty is allowed 
in finance. To see this it is necessary to understand the 
principles of mutual banking, which Mr. Matthews has not 
attentively studied. If he had, he would know that the estab- 
lishment of a mutual bank does not require the investment of 
capital, inasmuch as the customers of the bank furnish all the 


capital upon which the bank's notes are based, and that there- 
fore the rate of discount charged by the bank for the service 
of exchanging its notes for those of its customers is governed, 
under competition, by the cost of that service, and not by the 
rate of interest that capital commands. The relation is just 
the contrary of Mr. Matthews's supposition. It is the rate of 
interest on capital that is governed by the bank's rate of dis- 
count, for capitalists will not be able to lend their capital at 
interest when people can get money at the bank without 
interest with which to buy capital outright. It is this effect 
of free and mutual banking upon the rate of interest on 
capital that insures, or rather constitutes, the realization of 
the Cost principle by economic processes. For the moment 
interest and rent are eliminated as elements of price, and brisk 
competition is assured by the ease of getting capital, profits 
fall to the level of the manufacturer's or merchant's proper 
wage. It is well, as Mr. Matthews says, to have the Cost 
principle in' view ; for it is doubtless true that the ease with 
which society travels the path of progress is largely governed 
by the clearness with which it foresees it. But, foresight or 
no foresight, it " gets there just the same." The only fore- 
sight absolutely necessary to progress is foresight of the fact 
that liberty is its single essential condition. 


{Liberty, September 20, 1884.] 

While the principle of equal representation of all available values by the 
notes of the Exchange Bank is what I have advocated these thirty years, I 
do not perceive how, in generalizing the system, as Proudhon would do 
(I refer to the paragraphs translated by Greene), we are to avoid the 
chances of forgery on the one side, and on the other of fraudulent issues 
by the officers of the Bank. 

Such a Bank, moreover, is equivalent to a general insurance policy on 
the property of a country, and the true value of its notes must depend on 
security against conflagrations and other catastrophes affecting real estate 
as well as " personal property." 

I hope that the first essays will be local and limited. I think the 
commercial activity of modern civilization dangerously, if not fatally, 
exaggerated and disproportioned to production. The Railroad is a re- 
volver in the hands of a maniac, who has just about sense enough to shoot 
himself. Even were we not, in our blind passion for rapid and facile 
transportation, hanging ourselves by the slip-noose of monopoly, the im- 
pulse which railroads give to and towards city life, coming, as it has, 
before the establishment of a conservative scavenger system, by which the 

288 INSTEAD OF A fi06K. 

cream of soils would be restored to them, rapidly drains and wastes terra- 
solar vitality, and suffices soon to render America a desert. The feasible 
check to this "galloping consumption " lies in localizing the circuits of pro- 
duction with manipulation and consumption in cooperative associations. 
The smaller the area in which such self-sufficing circuit is effected, the 
greater the economy of force in transportation. 

Men and Gods are too extense ; 

Could you slacken and condense ? • 

I suppose you see the correlation of this idea with that of the safety of 
Exchange Bank notes, as in a locally restricted commerce frauds could 
and would be promptly detected, and therefore would be seldom attempted. 


Proudhon was accustomed to present his views of the way 
in which credit may be organized in two forms, — his Bank of 
Exchange and his Bank of the People. The latter was his 
real ideal ; the former he advocated whenever he wished to 
avoid the necessity of combating the objections of the govern- 
mentalists. The Bank of Exchange was to be simply the 
Bank of France transformed on the mutual principle. It is 
easy to see that the precautions against forgery and over- 
issue now used by the Bank of France would be equally valid 
after the transformation. But in the case of the Bank of the 
People, which involves the introduction of free competition 
into the banking business, these evils will have to be other- 
wise guarded against. The various ways of doing this are 
secondary considerations, having nothing to do with the prin- 
ciples of finance ; and human ingenuity, which has heretofore 
conquered much greater obstacles, will undoubtedly prove 
equal to the emergency. The more reputable banks would 
soon become distinguished from the others by some sort of 
voluntary organization and mutual inspection necessary to 
their own protection. The credit of all such as declined to 
submit to thorough examination by experts at any moment or 
to keep their books open for public inspection would be 
ruined, and these would receive no patronage. Probably also 
the better banks would combine in the use of a uniform bank- 
note paper difficult to counterfeit, which would be guarded 
most carefully and distributed to the various banks only so 
far as they could furnish security for it. In fact, any number 
of checks can be devised by experts that would secure the 
currency against all attempts at adulteration. There is little 
doubt that the first essays will be, as " Edgeworth " hopes, 
"local and limited." But I do not think the money so pro- 
duced will be nearly as safe as that which will result when 
the system has become widespread and its various branches 
organized in such a way that the best means of protection 
may be utilized at small expense. 



[Lilierty, July 16, 1887.] 

Van Buren Denslow, discussing in the Trutk Seeker the 
comparative rewards of labor and capital, points out that the 
present wage system divides profits almost evenly between 
the two, instancing the railways of Illinois, which pay annually 
in salaries and wages $81,936,170, and to capital, which Mr. 
Denslow defines as the " labor previously done in constructing 
and equipping the roads," $81,720,265. Then he remarks : 
" No system of intentional profit-sharing is more equal than 
this, provided we assent to the principle that a day's work 
already done and embodied in the form of capital is as well 
entitled to compensation for its use as a day's work not yet 
done, which we call labor." Exactly. But the principle 
referred to is the very thing which we Socialists deny, and 
until Mr. Denslow can meot and vanquish us on that point, he 
will in vain attempt to defend the existing, or any other form 
of profit-sharing. The Socialists' assert that " a day's work 
embodied in the form of capital " has already been fully 
rewarded by the ownership of that capital ; that, if the owner 
lends it to another to use and the user damages it, destroys it, 
or consumes any part of it, the owner is entitled to have this 
damage, destruction, or consumption made good ; and that, if 
the owner receives from the user any surplus beyond the 
return of his capital intact, his day's work is paid for a second 

Perhaps Mr. Denslow will tell us, as we have so often been 
told before, that this day's work should be paid for a second 
and a third and a hundredth and a millionth time, .because 
the capital which it produced and in which it is embodied 
increased the productivity of future labor. The fact that it 
did cause such an increase we grant; but that labor, where 
there is freedom, is or should be paid in proportion to its use- 
fulness we deny. All useful qualities exist in nature, either 
actively or potentially, and their benefits, under freedom, are 
distributed by the natural law of free exchange among man- 
kind. The laborer who brings any particular useful quality 
into action is paid according to the labor he has expended, but 
gets only his share, in common with all mankind, of the special 
usefulness of this product. It is true that the usefulness of his 
product has a tendency to enhance its price; but this tendency 
is immediately offset, wherever competition is possible, — and 

29* iNSTIlAD 0¥ A BOOIC. 

as long as thete is a money monopoly there is no freedoni of 
competition in any industry requiring capital, — by the rush of 
other laborers to create this product, which lasts until the price 
falls back to the normal wages of labor. Hence it is evident 
that the owner of the capital embodying the day's work above 
referred to cannot get his work paid for even a second, time by 
selling his capital. Why, then, should he be able to get it paid 
for a second time and an infinite number of times by re- 
peatedly lending his capital ? Unless Mr. Denslow can give 
us some reason, he will have to admit that all profit-sharing is 
a humbug, and that the entire net product of industry should 
fall into the hands of labor not previously embodied in the 
form of capital, — in other words, that wages should entirely 
absorb profits. 


[Lideriy^ June ig, iS86.] 

The Knights of Labor Convention at Cleveland voted to 
petition Congress for the passage of an act which embodies in 
a very crude way the all-important principle that all property 
having due stability of value should be available as a basis of 
currency. The act provides for the establishment of loan 
offices in every county in the United States, which, under the 
administration of cashiers and tellers appointed by the Secre- 
retary of the Treasury, shall issue legal tender money, redeem- 
able on demand in gold coin or its equivalent in lawful money 
of the United States, lending it at three per cent, a year to all 
who offer satisfactory security. 

The Knights have got hold of a great idea here,— one which 
has in it more potency for the emancipation of labor than any 
other ; but see now how they vitiate it and render it impracti- 
cable and worthless by their political and arbitrary methods of 
attempting its realization! 

One section of the act, by forbidding all individuals or asso- 
ciations to issue money, makes a government monopoly of the 
banking business, — -an outrageous denial of liberty ! 

Another section, instead of leaving the rate of discount to 
be governed by cost to which, were it not for the monopoly, 
competition would reduce it, arbitrarily fixes it at three per 
cent., thus recognizing labor's worst foe, usury. As three per 
cent, represents the average annual increase of wealth, — that 


is, the difference between the annual production and the 
annual consumption, — this section means that what ought to 
be labor's annual savings, and would be if usury did not 
abstract them from labor's pockets, shall be turned into the 
government treasury to be squandered as Congress and corruf)t 
officials may see fit. 

Another section establishes a uniform usury law for the 
entire country, providing that any person who shall lend money 
at any other rate than three per cent, shall forfeit to the bor- 
rower both principal and interest. Legislators have heretofore 
been satisfied to limit the rate of interest in one direction; but 
this limits it in both, subjecting the lender at two per cent, to 
the same forfeit that the lender at four must suffer. 

This piece of tyranny, however, as well as numerous others 
in the act, are thrown entirely into the shade by a section 
providing that any person convicted of offering for sale gold 
and silver coin of the United States " shall forfeit as a fine 
his entire estate, goods, money, and property, or may be 
imprisoned at hard labor fer fifty years, or suffer both fine and 
imprisonment, and in addition forever forfeit the right of 
citizenship in the United States." What an opportunity for 
Recorder Smythe, should this offence ever come within his 
jurisdiction ! His insane lust for cruelty, which lamented its 
inability to hang John Most for making an incendiary speech, 
might find greater gratification under this statute. Imagine 
him addressing the prisoner at the bar : 

" John Jones, a jury of your peers has found you guilty of a 
most heinous crime. You have presumed to offer in the 
market-place and subject to sacrilege of barter our sacred cart- 
wheel, the emblem of civilization, the silver dollar of the 
United States. It is evident that you are a member of the 
dangerous classes. You are probably the greatest scoundrel 
that ever disgraced the face of the earth. It is a great pity 
that our too merciful law will not permit me to burn you at 
the stake. But as it will not, I must be contented, in the 
interest of law, order, and society, to go to the extreme verge 
of the latitude allowed me. Therefore, I impose upon you a 
fine equal to your entire estate, I sentence you to imprison- 
ment at hard labor for fifty years, and I strip you forever of 
the right to vote me out of office." 

A beautiful organization, these Knights of Labor, for an, 
Anarchist to belong to ! 




The outcry against middlemen is senseless. As E. H. Hey- 
wood puts it, " Middlemen are as important as end men." And 
they are as truly producers. Distribution is a part of produc- 
tion. Nothing is wholly produced until it is ready for use, 
and nothing is ready for use until it has reached the place 
where it is to be used. Whoever brings it to that place is a 
producer, and as such entitled to charge for his work. The 
trouble with middlemen is that they charge consumers not 
only for their work, but for the use of their invested capital. 
As it is, they are useful members of society. Eliminate usury 
from their methods, and they will become respectable mem- 
bers 2\^o.~- Liberty, October i, 1881. 

Those who would have the usuref rewarded for rendering a 
service always find it convenient to forget that the usurer's 
victims would not need his service were it not that the laws 
made at his bidding prevent them from serving themselves. — 
Liberty, October 15, 1881. 

Of the absolute correctness of the principle, and advisability 
of the policy, of free trade there can be no reasonable doubt; 
but it must be thorough-going free trade, — no such half-way 
arrangement as that which the so-called " free traders " would 
have us adopt. David A. Wells, Professor Perry, and all the 
economists of the Manchester school are fond of clamoring 
for "free trade"; but an examination of their position always 
shows them the most ardent advocates of monopoly in the 
manufacture of money, — the bitterest opponents of free trade 
in credit. They agree and insist that it is nothing less than 
tyranny for the government to clip a large slice out of the 
foreign product which any one choses to import, but are un- 
able to detect any violation of freedom in the exclusive license 
given by the government to a conspiracy of note-shaving cor- 
porations called national banks, which are enabled by this 
monopoly to clip anywhere from three to fifteen per cent, out 
of the credit which the people are compelled to buy of them. 
Such "free trade" as this is the most palpable sham to any 
one who really looks into it. It makes gold a privileged prod- 
uct, the king of commodities. And as long as this royalty of 
gold exists, the protectionists who make so much of the theory 


of the "balance of trade" will occupy. an invulnerable position. 
While gold is king, the nation which absorbs it — that is, the 
nation whose exports largely exceed its imports — will surely 
govern the world. But dethrone this worst of despots, and 
that country will be the most powerful which succeeds to the 
largest extent in getting rid of its gold in exchange for prod- 
ucts more useful. In other words, the republicanization of 
specie must precede the freedom of trade. — Liberty, March i8, 

Some nincompoop, writing to the Detroit Spectator in'oppo- 
sition to cheap money, says : " If low interest insured high 
wages, during times of business depression wages would be 
high, for then interest reaches its minimum." Another man 
unable to see below the surface of things and distinguish as- 
sociation from causation ! The friends of cheap money do 
not claim that low interest insures high wages. What they 
claim is that free competition in currency-issuing and the con- 
sequent activity of capital insure both low interest and high 
wages. They do not deny that low interest sometimes results 
from other causes and unaccompanied by any increase in 
wages. When the money monopolists through their privilege 
have bled the producers nearly all they can, hard times set in, 
business becomes very insecure, no one dares to venture in 
new directions or proceed much further in old directions, 
there is no demand for capital, and therefore interest falls ; 
but, there being a decrease in the volume of business, wages 
fall also. Suppose, now, that great leveller, bankruptcy, steps 
in to wipe out all existing claims, and economic life begins over 
again under a system of free banking. What happens then ? 
All capital is at once made available by the abundance of the 
currency, and the supply is so great that interest is kept very 
low ; but confidence being restored and the way being clear 
for all sorts of new enterprises, there is also a great demand 
for capital, and the consequent increase in the volume of 
business causes wages to rise to a very high point. When 
people are afraid to borrow, interest is low and wages are low; 
when people are anxious to borrow, but can find only a very 
little available capital in the market, interest is high and wages 
are low ; when people are both anxious to borrow and can 
readily do so, interest is low and wages are high, the only ex- 
ception being that, when from some special cause labor is ex- 
traordinarily productive (as was the case in the early days of 
California), interest temporarily is high also. — Liberty, Novem- 
ber 22, 188^. 


" To produce wealth in the shape of coal," says Henry 
George, " nothing is needed but a bed of coal and a man." 
Yes, one thing else is needed, — a pick-axe. This neglect of 
the pick-axe and of the means of obtaining it is a vital flaw in 
Mr. George's economy. It leads him to say that "what hin- 
ders the production of wealth is not the lack of money to pay 
wages with, but the inability of men who are willing to work 
to obtain access to natural opportunities." That this lack of 
access, in the proportion that it exists, is a hinderance to pro- 
duction is indisputable, but in this country it is but a molehill 
in labor's path compared with the mountain that confronts 
labor in consequence of the lack of money. In fact, the lack 
of access is largely due to the lack of money. — Liberty, July 
30, 1887. 

In disposing with his usual cleverness of the economists' 
apologies for interest G. Bernard Shaw takes a position upon 
the money question not at all in harmony with the State So- 
cialism toward which he usually inclines. He would be taken, 
in fact, for a first-class Anarchist. Speaking of the tax which 
the banker who has a monopoly levies upon all commerce, he 
says : " Only by the freedom of other financiers to adopt his 
system and tempt his customers by offering to share the ad- 
vantage with them, can that advantage eventually be distrib- 
uted throughout the community." Only, observe. No other 
method will do it. Government monopoly will not do it. 
Nothing but laissez-faire, free competition, free money, in short, 
as far as it goes, pure Anarchism, can abolish interest on 
money. When Mr. Shaw shall apply this principle in all 
directions, he and Liberty will stand on the same platform. — 
Liberty, September 24, 1887. 

It is a common saying of George, McGlynn, Redpath, and 
their allies that they, as distinguished from the State Socialists, 
want less government instead of more, and that it is no part 
of the function of government to interfere with production 
and distribution except to the extent of assuming control of 
the bounties of nature and of such industries as are naturally 
and necessarily monopolies, — that is, such as are, in the nature 
of things, beyond the reach of competition's influence. In the 
latter category they place the conduct of railroads and tele- 
graphs and the issue of money. Now, inasmuch as it takes an 
enormous capital to build a railroad, and as strips of land three 
thousand miles long by thirty feet wide are not to be picked 
up ?very day, I can see some shadow of justificatioii for th? 


claim that railroads are necessarily exempt to a marked extent 
from competition, although I do not think on that account 
that it will be necessary to hand them over to the government 
in order to secure their benefits for the people. Still, if I 
were to accept Mr. George's premise that industries which are 
necessarily monopolies should be managed by the State, I 
might possibly conclude that railroads and some other enter- 
prises belong under that head. But how his premise is related 
to the issue of money I do not understand at all. That the 
issue of money is at present a monopoly I admit and insist, 
but it is such only because the State has laid violent hands 
upon it, either to hold for itself or to farm out as a privilege. 
If left free, there is nothing in its nature that necessarily 
exempts it from competition. It takes little or no capital to 
start a bank of issue whose operations may become world- 
wide, and, if a thousand banks should prove necessary to the 
prevention of exorbitant rates, it is as feasible to have them as 
to have one. Why, then, is the issue of money necessarily a 
monopoly, and as such to be entrusted exclusively to the 
State ? I have asked Mr. George a great many questions in 
the last half-dozen years, not one of which has he ever con- 
descended to answer. Therefore I scarcely dare hope that he 
will vouchsafe the important information which I now beg of 
him. — Liberty, October 8, 1887. 

The different uses of the word " free " lead to many misun- 
derstandings. For instance, a writer in the Denver Arbitrator 
gives the preference to free trade and free land over free 
money and free transportation on the ground that the former 
are " natural rights " while the latter are " privileges that can 
be conferred only by society." Here free money is evidently 
taken to mean the supply of money to the people free of cost 
by some external power. But it no more means that than free 
rum means the supply of rum free of cost. It means freedom 
to manufacture money and offer it in the market, and is a part 
of free trade itself. One may look upon free money and free 
trade as privileges, or as rights, or as simple equalities recog- 
nized by contract ; that is a matter of ethics and politics. But 
whichever way one views them, he must view both alike, for 
economically they are the same in principle. There is no pos- 
sible justification for calling one a right and the other a 
privilege, and giving a preference to. one or the other on 
the basis of that distinction. — Liberty, September 29, 1888. 

" A right theory of the functions of money," writes Robert 
Ellis Thompson in the Iri^h World, " is of the first necessity 


for understanding the controversy between protection and free 
trade." This is an important truth, first expressed, I think,, 
by Proudhon. It is precisely because Mr. Thompson does 
not understand the money question that he is a protectionist. 
Supposing that State control of money is a foregone conclu- 
sion, he sees as a logical result of this false premise that the 
State must also control the balance of trade. That his pre- 
mise may be doubted does not seem to have occurred to him. 
" The most extreme free trader," he says, " opposes free trade 
in money." Evidently he is unaware that the extremity of 
free trade is not to be found in the New York Evening Post. 
The Anarchists are the extreme free traders; and they, to a 
man, favor free trade in money, — most of them, in fact, recog- 
nizing it as a necessary condition of free trade in products. 
For, as Mr. Thompson truly says, it is " the height of folly for 
a country to exchange industrial power for industrial products." 
In the absence of a tariff, the tendency would be to just that 
sort of exchange, provided the State should continue to de- 
prive all products, save one or two, of the monetary function, 
and therefore of industrial power. Mr. Thompson, suppos- 
ing this restriction of the monetary function to be necessary 
and wise, clings very sensibly to the tariff. He would have 
the State hem in industrial power and bar out industrial prod- 
ucts. Of two wrongs he tries to make a right. The simpler 
way, involving no wrong at all, is to give industrial power to 
industrial products by endowing them with the monetary 
function, and then strike down all commercial barriers what- 
soever. — Liberty, February 2, 1889. 



[Ljderiy, June 24, i882,J 

The Liverpool speech,* it seeins, was delivered by Davitt 
in response to a challenge from the English press to explain 
the meaning of the phrase, "the land for the people." We 
hope they understand it now. 

" The land for the people," according to Parnell, appears to 
mean a change of the present tenants into proprietors of the 
estates by allowing them to purchase on easy terms fixed by 
the State and perhaps with the State's aid, and a maintenance 
thereafter of the present landlord system, involving the col- 
lection of rents by law. 

" The land for the people," according to Davitt, as ex- 
plained at Liverpool, appears to mean a change of the whole 
agricultural population into tenants of the State, which is to 
become the sole proprietor by purchase from the present pro- 
prietors, and the maintenance thereafter of the present land- 
lord system involving the collection of rents in the form of 

" The land for the people," according to George, appears to 
be the same as according to Davitt, except that the State is 
to acquire the land by confiscation instead of by purchase, 
and that the amount of rental is to be fixed by a different 
method of valuation. 

" The land for the people," according to Lilerty, means the 
protection (by the State while it exists, and afterwards by 
such voluntary associations for the maintenance of justice as 
may be destined to succeed it) of all people who desire to 
cultivate land in the possession of whatever land ithey per- 
sonally cultivate, without distinction between the existing 
classes of landlords, tenants, and laborers, and the positive 
refusal of the protecting power to lend its aid to the collec- 
tion of any rent whatsoever ; this state of things to be brought 
about by inducing the people to steadily refuse the payment 

*The speech in which Michael Davitt, in the summer of 1882, first 
publicly endorsed the doctrine of land nationalization. 


300 Instead op a book. 

of rent and taxes, and thereby, as well as by all Other means 
of passive and moral resistance, compel the State to repeal all 
the so-called land titles now existing. 

Thus " the land for the people " according to liberty is the 
only " land for the people " that means the abolition of land- 
lordism E^nd the annihilation of rent ; * and all of Henry 
George's talk about " peasant proprietorship necessarily mean- 
ing nothing more than an extension of the landlord class " is 
the veriest rot, which should be thrown back upon him by 
the charge that land nationalization means nothing more than 
a diminution of the landlord class and a concentration and 
hundred-fold multiplication of the landlord's power. 


[Liberty, October 3, 1885.] 

In following up the issues made by Mr. Tucker in the August, number 
of Liberty, I am not quixotic enough to defend Proudhon either against 
Mr. T. or against his own possible inconsistencies. Only two of his 
works (recommended by Mr. T.) have been open to me. What I have to 
say stands upon its own merits, appealing to reason and the instinct of 

I. "The fiction of the productivity of capital," 

In productivity for human needs or desires, human activity is implied. 
No one pretends that capital or the results of past labor can in this point 
of view be independent of actual labor. Ripe grain or fruit in field or 
orchard is a capital ; its use implies the labor of gathering and storing, 
milling, cooking, etc. But these consummating works would be impos- 
sible without the capital of the harvest, the result of previous culture, 
which, whether by the same or by different laborers, is equally an integ- 
rant factor in productivity and justly entitled to its proportionate share of 
the fruits. 

Now, go back a year or more. Before the culture in question, capital 
existed as the result of clearing, fencing, ditching, manuring, etc., with- 
out which the culture would have been fruitless or impossible. Such pre- 
vious works, then, are, equally with the two later, integrant of productiv- 
ity, and have just claims to t>e satisfied in the repartition of the harvest. 
Previous to these three kinds of works, there has often been expenditure 
of effort in discovery or exploration, in conquest of territory, to which the 
State falls heir, and on the strength of which it levies tribute under title 
of entry fees or purchase-money. 

In the precited series, the second term in order of succession has ab- 
sorbed the first, so that the entry or purchase-fee is added to the claim 
for preparatory works, whose aggregate constitutes the basis of rentals. 

* Meaning by rent monopolistic rent, paid by tenant to landlord ; not 
economic rent, the advantage enjoyed by the occupant of superior land. 

Land and rent. 30I 

Mr. Tucker says that the " liquidation of this value, whether immediate 
or gradual, is a sale, and brings a right of ownership, which it is not in 
the nature of rent to do. To call this rent is inaccurate." Now, this is a 
question of the use of language. Accuracy here, as I maintain, consists 
in the use of words in their usual sense. I protest against neologies, or 
arbitrary definitions, in economics that make words squint, as a perfidy of 
Socialism which engenders vain logomachies and retards the triumph of 
justice. The liquidation of the value precited, the result of preparatory 
worlis, may be effected either by sale or by rentals. Sale is often impos- 
sible or unfeasible ; it would be so at present for my own farm. Now, 
comes in the idea that each payment of rent shall constitute an instalment 
of purchase-money. This is Proudhon's theory of liquidation with a view 
to the independent proprietorship of the soil by its farmers. It is viable 
for rentals during a term of successive years, but is inapplicable to many 
cases like the following. By expenditure of unpaid labor during several 
years I have prepared a field for cotton culture. An immigrant, needing 
to realize the results of labor more promptly than would be possible if he 
began by performing upon forest land the kind of work I have already 
done, offers me a fourth of the crop for the use of my field. TAis is rent. 
The crop from which it is paid leaves the soil poorer in proportion, and 
the fences, etc., will need repair at an earlier period. Thus each crop 
maj' be estimated as lessening the original value of productivity by about 
one-tenth, sometimes as much as one-fourth. Now, the tenant profits 
three times as much as I do at the cost of my preparatory labors. The 
loss by cropping, of this value, is the just basis of rent, which leaves no 
proportion of purchase title to the tenant during one or a few seasons who 
does not manure or repair fences. The tenant who does this, and thus 
reproduces the original value, justly enters into proprietorship, and his 
rentals ought to be regarded as instalments of purchase-money. There 
lies the practical difference. 

It is necessary to face the facts, and to avoid confusion by abstract 
terminology. There is just rent, and there is unjust rent, or the legal 
abuse of the rental system. Abate the public nuisance of legislation, and 
these matters are naturally arranged by contract between farmers. 

The equitable relations between actual labor and the previous labors 
that constitute capital in the soil, or immovable upon it, vary with time, 
place, and circumstance. Rulings concerning them, reduced to the pro- 
crustean measures of law, if just for some cases, must be unjust for 
others. Private contracts only can approximate to justice ; and how 
nearly they do it is the affair of the contracting parties, defying all pre- 
scriptive formulas. Edgeworth. 

The two works which I recommended to Edgeworth are 
among Proudhon's best ; but they are very far from all that 
he has written, and it is very natural for the reader of a very 
small portion of his writings to draw inferences which he will 
find unwarranted when he reads more. This is due princi- 
pally to Proudhon's habit of using words in different senses at 
different times, which I regard as unfortunate. Now, in the 
article which gave rise to this discussion, Edgeworth inferred 
(or seemed to infer), from the fact that some of Proudhon's 
transitional proposals allowed a share to capital for a time, 
that he contemplated as a permanent arrangement a division 


of labor's earnings between labor and capital as two distinct 
things. Lest this might mislead, I took the liberty to correct 
it, and to state that Proudhon thought labor the only legiti- 
mate title to wealth. 

Now comes Edgeworth, and says that he meant by capital 
only the result of preparatory labor, which is as much en- 
titled to reward as any other. Very good, say I ; no one 
denies that. But this is not what is ordinarily meant by the 
" productivity of capital " ; and Edgeworth, by his own rule, is 
bound to use words in their usual sense. The usual sense of 
this phrase, and the sense in which the economists use it, is 
that capital has such an independent share in all production 
that the owner of it may rightfully farm out the privilege 
of using it, receive a steady income from it, have it restored 
to him intact at the expiration of the lease, farm it out again 
to somebody else, and go on in this way, he and his heirs 
forever, living in a permanent state of idleness and luxury 
simply from having performed a certain amount of " prepara- 
tory labor." That is what Proudhon denounced as " the 
fiction of the productivity of capital " ; and Edgeworth, in 
interpreting the phrase otherwise, gives it a very unusual 
sense, in violation of his own rule. 

Moreover, what Edgeworth goes on to say about the pro- 
portional profits of landlord and tenant indicates that he has 
very loose ideas about the proper reward of labor, whether 
present or preparatory. The scientific reward (and under ab- 
solutely free competition the actual reward is, in the long run, 
almost identical with it) of labor is the product of an equal 
amount of equally arduous labor. The product of an hour 
of Edgeworth 's labor in preparing a field for cotton culture, 
and the product of an hour of his tenant's labor in sowing 
and harvesting the crop, ought each to exchange for the 
product of an hour's labor of their neighbor the shoemaker, 
or their neighbor the tailor, or their neighbor the grocer, or 
their neighbor the doctor, provided the labor of all these par- 
ties is equally exhausting and implies equal amounts of ac- 
quired skill and equal outlays for tools and facilities. Now, 
supposing the cases of Edgeworth and his tenant to be repre- 
sentative and not isolated ; and supposing them to produce, 
not for their own consumption, but for the purpose of sale, 
which is the purpose of practically all production, it then 
makes no difference to either of them whether their hour's 
labor yields five pounds of cotton or fifteen. In the one 
case they can get no more shoes or clothes or groceries or 
medical services for the fifteen pounds than they can in the 

LAi^D ANt) RfiNf. j^6j 

Other for the five. The great body of landlords and tenants, 
like the great body of producers in any other industry, does 
not profit by an increased productivity in its special field of 
work, except to the extent that it consumes or repurchases its 
own product. The profit of this increase goes to the people 
at large, the consumers. So it is not true (assuming always a 
regime oi free competition) that Edgeworth's tenant "profits 
three times as much " as Edgeworth because of the latter's 
preparatory labors. Neither of them profit thereby, but each 
gets an hour of some other man's labor for an hour of his own. 

So much for the reward of labor in general. Now to get 
back to the question of rent. 

If Edgeworth performs preparatory labor on a cotton field, 
the result of which would remain intact if the field lay idle, 
and that result is damaged by a tenant, the tenant ought to 
pay him for it on the basis of reward above defined. This 
does not bring a right of ownership to the tenant, to be sure, 
for the property has been destroyed and cannot be purchased. 
But the transaction, nevertheless, is in the nature of a sale, 
and not a payment for a loan. Every sale is an exchange of 
labor, and the tenant simply pays money representing his 
own labor for the result of Edgeworth's labor which he (the 
tenant) has destroyed in appropriating it to his own use. If 
the tenant does not damage the result of Edgeworth's prepar- 
atory labor, then, as Edgeworth admits, whatever money the 
tenant pays justly entitles him to that amount of ownership in 
the cotton field. Now, this money, paid over and above all 
damage, if it does not bring equivalent ownership, is payment 
for use, usury, and, in my terminology, rent. If Edgeworth 
prefers to use the word rent to signify all money paid to land- 
lords as such by tenants as such for whatever reason, I shall 
think his use of the word inaccurate; but I shall not quarrel 
with him, and shall only protest when he interprets other- 
men's thought by his own definitions, as he seemed to me to 
have done in Proudhon's case. If he will be similarly peace- 
ful towards me in my use of the word, there will be no 

The difference between us is just this. Edgeworth says that 
from tenant to landlord there is payment for damage, and this 
is just rent ; and there is payment for use, and that is unjust 
rent. I say there is payment for damage, and this is indemni- 
fication or sale, and is just ; and there is payment for use, and 
that is rent, and is unjust. My use of the word is in accord- 
ance with the dictionary, and is more definite and discriminat- 
ing than the other ; moreover, I find it more effective in argu- 


ment. Many a time has some small proprietor, troubled with 
qualms of conscience and anxious to justify the source of his 
income, exclaimed, on learning that I believe in payment for 
wear and tear : " Oh ! well, you believe in rent, after all ; it's 
only a question of how much rent ; " after which he would 
settle back, satisfied. I have always found that the only way 
to give such a man's conscience a chance to get a hold upon 
his thought and conduct was to insist on the narrower use of 
the word rent. It calls the attention much more vividly to 
the distinction between justice and injustice. If in this I am 
guilty of neology, I am no more so than in my use of the word 
Anarchy, which Edgeworth adopts with great enthusiasm and 
employs with great effect. If the " squint " is what he objects 
to, why does it annoy him in one case and please him in the 

I must add that, after what I said in my previous answer in 
opposition to legislative interference for the control of rents, 
etc., it seems hardly within the limits of fair discussion to hint 
that I am in favor of " procrustean measures of law." Cer- 
tainly, Edgeworth does not directly say so, but in an article 
avowedly written, in answer to me I cannot see how the re- 
mark is otherwise pertinent. 


[Liberty^ December 12, 1885.] 

The terminology employed by me in the preceding numbers ol, Liberty 
needs no defence, as I have used common words in their usual sense with- 
out regard to the technicalities of schoolmen. 

My admission that payments by a tenant beyond restoration of all values 
removed by crops, and during the years of.culture, should justly be reck- 
oned as purchase money, has nothing to do with terminology; it employs 
no words in an unusual sense. Therein consists, however, my radical ac- 
cord with Proudhon and other modern socialists, and it cuts to the root oi 
the tribune paid to idle landlords. The rent on real estate in cities has a 
compound basis; for, in addition to the equivalent for repairs and taxes 
common between it and agricultural rent, it includes an increment that 
may or may not have been earned by the owner and which is generally 
due to the concurrence of many individuals actuated by commercial and 
other social interests. A vortex, the site of which is determined by some 
local advantage, sucks in the population and resources of a large area. 

The ethical title to the unearned increment of market values in real es- 
tate reverts to the municipal autonomy (i), but its legal title is now vested 
with individuals, and is the unjust basis of fortunes, like that of the As- 
ters in New York City. Such titles carry with them at least hygienic; 

Land and reNt. 365 

duties, and certain tenement blocks are fairly indictable under existing 
laws as public nuisances. 

Market gardens near cities partake of this compound basis of values, but 
for agricultural lands generally labor is the only factor of value and title of 
rent. " Reduction to Procrustean codes of law of these relations between 
past and present labor which constitute capital in the soil" is an archonis- 
tic vice which I do not attribute to Mr. Tucker, but I perceive in his reply 
some twinges of conscience which accuse his semi-allegiance' to " Pant- 
archate " doctrines. One of these he brings forward in the formula of ex- 
change of labor, hour for hour; an arrangement the feasibility of which is 
narrowly limited in practice, and which, even when feasible, must be sub- 
ordinate to personal contracts under individual sovereignty. (2) The pre- 
tension to generalize it is purely conventional and foreign to economic 
science. (3) 

Aiming at equalitarian justice in labor exchange, Marx takes from statis- 
tical tables the average life of laborers in each department, including even 
the manipulation of poisons; then, if the span of life in these is reduced to, 
say five years, while in farm-work it is sixty, he makes one hour of the lat- 
ter exchange for twelve of the former. 

Is it necessary to expose the puerility of such speculative views? With 
a despotic capitalism will cease the necessity for murderous industries. 
Honest labor owns no fealty to the royalty of gold; hence will abandon 
the quicksilver works of the Rothschilds, which have for their chief object 
the extraction of gold, to be kept in vaults as the basis of currency. The 
Labor and Produce Exchange Bank annihilates at one blow the industrial 
and the financial slavery. 

Honest labor has no use for those paralyzing paints which are com- 
pounded with white lead. It will forge its plows as they were forged be- 
fore capitalism dictated that sharpening process, to the dust of which so 
many lives are sacrificed by artifical phthisis. I make bold to declare that 
not a single murderous function will remain after the emancipation from 
the prejudice of government, for the political and the economic despotisms 
are Siamese twins. Sut that will not equalize exchanges, hour for hour, — 
a system whose occasional feasibility cannot go behind personal contracts, 
and for Anarchists must be optional with individual sovereignty. It is a 
rickety child of the " Pantarchate," that needs to be bolstered with half a 
dozen ifs. Not only is it incalculable for exchanges between the simpler 
forms of labor and those requiring years of previous study, or a costly 
preparation ; (4) but even in agriculture or mechanics, labor is little more 
than the zero that gives value to judgment and skill, without which its in- 
tervention is not only worthless, but often detrimental. (5) A mere plow- 
man in my orchard may ruin my fruit crop by a day's faithful work, or a 
surgeon cripple me for life by an operation however well intended, and, 
mechanically, well performed. (6) , , . , 

The employer is naturally and ethically the appraiser of work, and what 
he wants to know is, not the cost in time or pains, but the probable value 
of the result, before proposing terms to labor. (7) Then the estimate of 
costs enters into the laborer's answer, but, as he must often accept work 
the unforeseen costs of which exceed the compensation, it is unjust to 
restrict him from indemnifying himself on other occasions, by computing 
the value of hi^ work to the employer. (8) - , ^ , 

The "cost limit of price " doctrine is another economic fantasy (9) that 
flouts practical expediency, and, while qualifying particular estimates, can 
never become a general law. 

The ethical validity of investment of past labor as the basis of rent does 

3o6 iNSTKAb b'f A feoOK. 

not need to lean upon the broken reed that Mr. Tucker supplies in his "i/ 
its result would remain intact, the field lying idle," etc. He knows it could 
not remain intact, for such field wouiQ grow up in grubs and the fences 
would decay during idleness; but it does not follow that the field would lie 
idle because not rented, nor would my loss in that case be a just reason 
why I should not share in the fructification of my past labor by another 
man's actual labor. (lo) My illustration of the mechanism and conditions 
of the prdductivity of capital stands for itself and by itself ; it is not a 
gloze or commentary upon Proudhon. His ideas and mine both harmo- 
nize with the facts of the case; that is our agreement: it is not an affair of 
mere verbiage. 

The field in question owed its whole productivity to my previous labor. 
Other land contiguous was free to my tenant's occupation and use, but 
though of equal original capacities was rejected by him as a non-value. 
This is true of most agricultural land. Only by contiguity to cities, or 
in certain exceptional sites, has land any appreciable value independent of 
labor, in this country. 

I stated that, in making a crop upon the basis of values accumulated in 
the soil by my previous labor, the tenant, paying one-fourth, profited 
three times as much by my previous labor as I did. This is the conven- 
tional award to his season's labor ; it may be more or less than relative 
justice, but conventional rules or customs are infinitely preferable to arith- 
metical computations of a balance by the hours of labor. Farmers are not 
apt to be monomaniacs of bookkeeping. . Instead of profited, I might 
have written shared. The term profit touches a hyperEesthetic spot in the 
socialist brain, and makes thought fly off at a tangent, (ii) Mr. Tucker's 
commentary here is to me a mere muddle of phrases, which it does not 
appear profitable to analyze. 

There is no squint in our use of the word Anarchy. There is a squint 
in employing it as a synonym with confusion. (12) Edgeworth. 

(i) This smacks of Henry George. If the municipality is 
an organization to which every person residing vi^ithin a given 
territory must belong and pay tribute, it is not a bit more de- 
fensible than the State itself, — in fact, is nothing but a small 
State ; and to vest in it a title to any part of the value of real 
estate is simply land nationalization on a small scale, which no 
Anarchist can look upon with favor. If the municipality is 
a voluntary organization, it can have no titles except what it 
gets from the individuals composing it. If they choose to 
transfer their "unearned increments" to the municipality, well 
and good ; but any individual not choosing to do so ought to 
be able to hold his "unearned increment " against the world. 
If it is unearned, certainly his neighbors did not earn it. The 
advent of Liberty will reduce all unearned increments to a 
harmless minimum. 

(2) There it is again. After admitting that I do not want 
to impose this principle of exchange, why does Edgeworth re- 
mind me that it must be " subordinate," etc.? When forced 
to a direct answer, he allows that I am not in favor of legal 
regulation, but immediately he proceeds with his argument as 


if I were. Logic commands him for a moment ; then he lapses 
back into his instinctive inability to distinguish between a 
scientific principle and statute law. 

(3) Who pretends to generalize it ? Certainly no Anarchist. 
The pretension is that it will generalize itself as soon as mo- 
nopoly is struck down. This generalization, far from being 
conventional, depends upon the abolition of conventions. In- 
stead of being narrowly limited in practice, the labor measure 
of exchange will become, through Liberty, an almost universal 

(4) Why incalculable ? Suppose a boy begins farm labor at 
fifteen years of age with a prospect of fifty years of work be- 
fore him at one thousand dollars a year. Suppose another boy 
of the same age spends ten years and ten thousand dollars in 
studying medicine, and begins practice at twenty-five years of 
age with a prospect of forty years of work before him. Is it 
snch a difficult mathematical problem to find out how great a 
percentage the latter must add to his prices in order to get in 
forty years as much as the farmer gets in fifty, and ten thou- 
sand dollars besides ? Any schoolboy could solve it. Of 
course, labor cannot be estimated with the same degree of 
accuracy under all circumstances; but with the cost principle 
as a guide a sufficient approximation to equity is secured, while 
without it there is nothing but haphazard, scramble, and ex- 
tortion. Edgeworth is mistaken, by the way, regarding the 
paternity of this principle. It is not a child of the " Pan- 
tarchate," or at any rate only an adopted child, its real father 
having been Josiah Warren, who hated the " Pantarchate " 
most cordially. 

(5) I have never maintained that judgment and skill are less 
important than labor ; I have only maintained that neither 
judgment nor skill can be charged for in equity except so far 
as they have been acquired. Even then the payment is not 
for the judgment or skill, but for the labor of acquiring ; and, 
in estimating the price, one hour of labor in acquiring judg- 
ment is to be considered equal, — not, as now, to one day, or 
week, or perhaps year of manual toil, — but to one hour of 
manual toil. The claim for judgment and skill is usually a 
mere pretext made to deceive the people into paying exorbitant 
prices, and will not bear analysis for a moment. 

(6) What has this to do with the price of labor ? Imagine 
Edgeworth or any other sensible man employing an incom- 
petent surgeon because his services could be had for a dollar 
a day less than those of one more competent ! The course 
for sensible and just men to follow is this : Employ the best 


workmen you can find ; whomsoever you employ, pay them 
equitably ; if they damage you, insist that they shall make the 
damage good so far as possible ; but do not dock their wages 
on the supposition that they may damage you. 

(7) On the contrary, the employee, the one who does the 
work, is naturally and ethically the appraiser of work, and all 
that the employer has to say is whether he will pay the price 
or not. Into his answer enters the estimate of the value of 
the result. Under the present system he offers less than cost, 
and the employee is forced to accept. But Liberty and com- 
petition will create such an enormous market for labor that no 
workman will be forced by his incompetency to work for less 
than cost, as he will always be in a position to resort to some 
simpler work for which he is competent and can obtain ade- 
quate pay. 

(8) The old excuse : to pay Paul I must rob Peter. 

(9) No, not another; the same old fantasy, if it be a fantasy. 
The fact that Edgeworth supposes the exchange of labor for 
labor to be a different thing from the " cost limit of price " 
doctrine shows how little he understands it. 

(10) Edgeworth admitted in his previous article that he 
could ask nothing more than that his field should be restored 
to him intact, and that anything his tenant might pay in ad- 
dition should be regarded as purchase-money ; now he not 
only wants his field restored intact, but insists on sharing in 
the results of his tenant's labor. I can follow in no such 
devious path as this. 

(11) It would have made no difference to me had Edge- 
worth said " shared " instead of "profited." In that case I 
should simply have said that neither landlords nor tenants as 
such (where there is freedom of competition) share in the 
results of the extra fertility of soil due to preparatory labor, 
but that those results go to the consumers. And Edgeworth's 
reply would have been the same, — that my remarks were a 
" muddle of phrases." Such a reply admits of no discussion. 
Only our readers can judge of its justice. In saying that 
"farmers are not apt to be monomaniacs of bookkeeping," 
Edgeworth is probably not aware that he is calling Proudhon 
(with whom he so obstinately insists that he is in accord) 
hard names. The statement occurs over and over again in 
Proudhon 's works that bookkeeping is the final arbiter in all 
economical discussion. He never tires of sounding its praises. 
And this great writer, whose " radical accord " with Edge- 
worth "is not a matter of mere verbiage," was one of the 



most persistent champions of the cost principle and the ex- 
change of labor hour for hour. 

(12) I presume I am entirely safe in saying that the word 
Anarchy is used in the sense of confusion a thousand times 
where it is used once in the sense of Liberty. Therefore 
Edgeworth's closing assertion that '' there is no squint in our 
use of the word Anarchy," and that " there is a squint in em- 
ploying it as a synonym with confusion," shows how much 
reliance can be placed upon his opening assertion that in 
this discussion he has " used common words in their usual 


\Liberty^ July 12, i8go.] 

The current objection to Anarchism, that it would throw 
property titles and especially land titles into hopeless con- 
fusion, has originated an interesting discussion in The Free Life 
between Auberon Herbert, the editor, and Albert Tarn, an 
Anarchistic correspondent. Mr. Tarn is substantially right in 
the position that he takes ; his weakness lies in confining 
himself to assertion, — a weakness of which Mr. Herbert 
promptly takes advantage. 

Mr. Tarn's letter is as follows : 

To the Editor of The Free Life : 

Sir, — In your article on "The Great Question of Property " in last 
week's Free Life you speak of the weakness of the Anarchist position as 
involving either " hard crystalline customs very difficult to alter," or "some 
perpetually recurring form of scramble." 

It seems strange that you can attribute to Anarchy just the very weak- 
nesses that characterize our present property system. Why, it is now that 
we have " hard crystalline customs very difficult to alter," and a "perpet- 
ually recurring" — nay, a never-ceasing — "form of scramble." 

Anarchists above all, though in favor of free competition, are averse to 
the eternal scramble which is now going on for the privileges which legal 
money and legal property confer, of living at ease at the expense of the 

Anarchy would sweep away such privileges, and, there being no longei 
any chance of obtaining them, people would simply work for their living 
and retain whatever they earn. There would be little or no quarrel about 
property, no revolutionary movements to try to get hold of it, no taxes, 
no State Socialism. Why, all your struggles to-day, not only in the work- 
shop and counting-house, but in the political field, are caused by the stupid 
laws of property and money, which result in a never-ending scramble. 

Anarchy means p?ace| it means every one getting what he's worth and 


no more, — no thieving at all, neither by landlords, usurers, lawyers, tax- 
collectors, nor even by pick-pockets and burglars when the present con- 
trasts of wealth vanish. 

Your property laws are just as stupid as any other laws. They defeat 
their own ends. Yours faithfully, 

AtBERT Tarn. 

In Mr. Herbert's rejoinder the case against Anarchisim is 
exceptionally well put, and for this reason among others I give 
it in full : 

It is not enough for our correspondent, Mr. Tarn, to say that Anarchy 
does away with scramble ; we want to know "the how" and " the why." 
Our contention is that under the law jf the free market everybody knows, 
first, who owns a particular piece of property, and, secondly, the con- 
ditions under which property can be acquired. All is clear and definite, 
and that clearness and definiteness are worth far more to the human 
race in the long run than any temporary advantage to be gained by forcible 
interferings with distribution. On the other hand, we say that under 
Anarchy nobody would know to whom a piece of property belonged, and 
nobody would understand how it was to be transferred from A to B. 
Take any instance you like. Anarchists generally define property by use 
and possession ; that is, whoever uses and possesses is to be considered 
owner. John Robins possesses a plot of three acres, and manages to 
feed two cows on it. John Smith possesses neither land nor cow. He 
comes to John Robins and says : " You are not really using and possess- 
ing these three acres; I shall take half of them." Who on earth is 
to judge between these men ? Who is to say whether John Robins is 
really possessing or not ? Who is going to say to John Smith that he 
shall not get a bit of land by " scramble " from John Robins, seeing that 
under the Anarchist system that was the very way in which John Robins 
himself got these three acres from the big landowner, who, as he said at 
the time, was not truly owning, because he was not possessing. 

Mr. Tarn finds fault with us for saying that Anarchy, or no fixed stand- 
ard of acquiring or owning, must lead either to rigid crystalline custom or 
to scramble. But is that not almost absolutely certain ? At first it must 
be scramble. Everybody who could would take or keep on the plea 
of possession. We presume even a weekly tenant could claim under the 
same plea. But even when the first great scramble was over, the smaller 
scrambles would continue, — the innumerable adjustments between John 
Robins and John Smith having to be perpetually made. But after a cer- 
tain time the race would tire of scramble, as it always has done, and then 
what would happen ? Why, necessarily, that a community would silently 
frame for itself some law or custom that would decide all these disputed 
cases. They would say that no man should hold more than two acres ; or 
that no man should be disturbed after so many years' possession ; or they 
would fix some other standard, which would tend to become rigid and crys- 
talline, and be very difficult to alter, just because there was no machinery 
for altering it. 

We say that our friends the Anarchists — with whom, when they are not 
on the side of violence, we have much in common — must make their posi- 
tion clear and definite about property. They are as much opposed as we 
are to State-regulated property ; they are as much in favor of individualis- 
tic property as we are ; but they will not ])ay the price that has to be paid 
for individualistic property, and which alone can make it possible. When 


once you are away from the open market, there are only two alternatives, 
—State regulation (or law) and scramble. Every form of property-hold- 
ing, apart from the open market, will be found to be some modification of 
one of these two forms. 

This criticism of Anarchism, reduced to its essence, is seen 
to be twofold. First, the complaint is that it has no fixed 
standard of acquiring or owning. Second, the complaint is 
that it necessarily results in a fixed standard of acquiring or 
owning. Evidently Mr. Herbert is a very hard man to please. 
Before he criticises Anarchism further, I must insist that he 
make up his mind whether he himself wants or does not want 
a fixed standard. And whatever his decision, his criticism 
falls. For if he wants a fixed standard, that which he may 
adopt is as liable to become a " rigid crystalline custom " as 
any that Anarchism may lead to. And if he does not want a 
fixed standard, then how can he complain of Anarchism for 
having none ? 

If it were my main object to emerge from this dispute vic- 
torious, I might well leave Mr. Herbert in the queer predica- 
ment in which his logic has placed him. But as I am really 
anxious to win him to the Anarchistic view, I shall try to 
show him that the fear of scramble and rigidity with which 
Anarchism inspires him has little or no foundation. 

Mr. Herbert, as I understand him, believes in voluntary 
association, voluntarily supported, for the defence of person 
and property. Very well ; let us suppose that he has won his 
battle, and that such a state of things exists. Suppose that 
all municipalities have adopted the voluntary principle, and 
that compulsory taxation has been abolished. Now, after this, 
let us suppose further that the Anarchistic view that occu- 
pancy and use should condition and limit landholding be- 
comes the prevailing view. Evidently then these municipali- 
ties will proceed to formulate and enforce this view. What 
she formula will be no one can foresee. But continuing with 
our suppositions, we will say that they decide to protect no 
one in the possession of more than ten acres. In execution of 
this decision, they, on October i, notify all holders of more than 
ten acres within their limits that, on and after the following Jan- 
uary I, they will cease to protect them in the possession of more 
than ten acres, and that, as a condition of receiving even that 
protection, each must make formal declaration on or before De- 
cember I of the specific ten-acre plot within his present holding 
which he proposes to personally occupy and use after January 
I. These declarations having been made, the municipalities 
publish them ancj g,t the same tinie notify landless person^ 


that out of the lands thus set free each may secure protection 
in the possession of any amount up to ten acres after January 
I by appearing on December 15, at a certain hour, and mak- 
ing declaration of his choice and intention of occupancy. 
Now, says Mr. Herbert, the scramble will begin. Well, per- 
haps it will. But what of it ? When a theatre advertises to 
sell seats for a star performance at a certain hour, there is a 
scramble to secure tickets. When a prosperous city an- 
nounces that on a given day it will accept loans from individ- 
uals up to a certain aggregate on attractive terms, there is a 
scramble to secure the bonds. As far as I know, nobody 
complains of these scrambles as unfair. The scramble begins 
and the scramble ends, and the matter is settled. Some in- 
equality still remains, but it has been reduced to a minimum, 
and everybody has had an equal chance with the rest. So it 
will be with this land scramble. It may be conducted as 
peacefully as any other scramble, and those who are fright- 
ened by the word are simply the victims of a huge bugbear. 

And the terror of rigidity is equally groundless. This rule 
of ten-acre possession, or any similar one that may be 
adopted, is no more rigid crystalline custom than is Mr. Her- 
bert's own rule of protecting titles transferred by purchase and 
sale. Any rule is rigid less by the rigidity of its terms than 
by the rigidity of its enforcement. Now it is precisely in the 
tempering of tlie rigidity of enforcement that one of the chief 
excellences of Anarchism consists. Mr. Herbert must re- 
member that under Anarchism all rules and laws will be little 
more than suggestions for the guidance of juries, and that all 
disputes, whether about land or anything else, will be submit- 
ted to juries which will judge not only the facts, but the law, 
the justice of the law, its applicability to the given circum- 
stances, and the penalty or damage to be inflicted because of 
its infraction. What better safeguard against rigidity could 
there be than this ? " Machinery for altering " the law, ir.- 
deed ! Why, under Anarchism the law will be so flexible that 
it will shape itself to every emergency and need no alteration. 
And it will then be regarded as just in proportion to its flexi- 
bility, instead of as now in proportion to its rigidity. 



[Liberty^ May 7, 1887.] 

Here is a delicious bit of logic from Mr. George : " If 
capital, a mere creature of labor, is such an oppressive thing, 
its creator, when free, can strangle it by refusing to reproduce 
it." The italics are mine. If capital is oppressive, it must be 
oppressive of labor. What difference does it make, then 
what labor can do when free ? The question is what it can 
do when oppressed by capital. Mr. George's next sentence, 
to be sure, indicates that the freedom he refers to is freedom 
from land monopoly. But this does not improve his situation. 
He is enough of an economist to be very well aware that, 
whether it has land or not, labor which can get no capital — 
that is, which is oppressed by capital — cannot, without accept- 
ing the alternative of starvation, refuse to reproduce capital 
for the capitalists. 

It is one thing for Mr. George to sit in his sanctum and 
write of the ease with which a man whose sole possession is a 
bit of land can build a home and scratch a living ; for the 
man to do it is wholly another thing. The truth is that this 
man can do nothing of the sort until you devise some means 
of raising his wages above the cost of living. And you can 
only do this by increasing the demand for his labor. And 
you can only increase the demand for his labor by enabling 
more men to go into business. And you can only enable 
more men to go into business by enabling them to get capital 
without interest, which, in Mr. George's opinion, would be very 
wrong. And you can only enable them to get capital without 
interest by abolishing the money monopoly, which, by limit- 
ing the supply of money, enables its holders to exact interest. 
And when you have abolished the money monopoly, and 
when, in consequence, the wages of the man with the bit of 
land have begun to rise above the cost of living, the labor 
question will be nine-tenths solved. For then either this man 
will live better and better, or he will steadily lay up money, 
with which he can buy tools to compete with his employer or 
to till his bit of land with comfort and advantage. In short, 
he will be an independent man, receiving all that he produces 
or an equivalent thereof. How to make this the lot of all 
men is the labor question. Free land will not solve it. Fre? 
iponey, supplemented by free land, will. 



[Liberty^ September 24, 1887.] 

In trying to answer the argument that land is practically- 
useless to labor unprovided with capital, Henry George 
declares that "labor and land, even in the absence of sec- 
ondary factors obtained from their produce, have in their 
union to-day, as they had in the beginning, the potentiality of 
all that man ever has brought, or ever can bring, into being." 

This is perfectly true ; in fact, none know it better than the 
men whom Mr. George thus attempts to meet. 

But, as Cap'n Cuttle was in the habit of remarking, " the 
bearin' o' this 'ere hobserwation lies in the application on't," 
and in its application it has no force whatever. Mr. George 
uses it to prove that, if land were free, labor would settle on 
it, thus raising wages by relieving the labor market. 

But labor would do no such thing. 

The fact that a laborer, given a piece of land, can build a 
hut of mud, strike fire with flint and steel, scratch a living with 
his finger-nails, and thus begin life as a barbarian, even with 
the hope that in the course of a lifetime he may slightly improve 
his condition in consequence of having fashioned a few of the 
ruder of those implements which Mr. George styles " second- 
ary factors " (and he could do no more than this without pro- 
ducing for exchange, which implies, not only better machinery, 
but an entrance into that capitalistic maelstrom which would 
sooner or later swallow him up), — this fact, I say, will never 
prove a temptation to the operative of the city, who, despite 
his wretchedness, knows something of the advantages of civili- 
zation and to some extent inevitably shares them. 

Man does not live by bread alone. 

The city laborer may live in a crowded tenement and breathe 
a tainted air ; he may sleep cold, dress in rags, and feed on 
crumbs ; but now and then he gets a glimpse at the morning 
, paper, or, if not, then at the bulletin-board ; he meets his fel- 
low-men face to face ; he knows by contact with the world 
more or less of what is going on in it ; he spends a few pennies 
occasionally for a gallery-ticket to the theatre or for some 
other luxury, even though he knows he "can't afford it"; he 
hears the music of the street bands ; he sees the pictures in 
the shop windows ; he goes to church if he is pious, or, if not, 
perhaps attends the meetings of the Anti-foverty Society anti 


listens to stump speeches by Henry George ; and, wher. all 
these fail him, he is indeed unfortunate if some fellow-laborer 
does not invite him to join him in a social glass over the near- 
est bar. 

Not an ideal life, surely ; but he will shiver in his garret and 
slowly waste away from inanition ere he will exchange it for 
the semi-barbarous condition of the backwoodsman without 
an axe. And, were he to do otherwise, I would be the first to 
cry : The more fool he ! 

Mr. George's remedy is similar — at least for a part of man- 
kind — to that which is attributed to the Nihilists, but which 
few of them ever believed in, — namely, the total destruction of 
the existing social order and the creation of a new one on its 

Mr. George may as well understand first as last that labor 
will refuse to begin this world anew. It never will abandon 
even its present meagre enjoyment of the wealth and the means 
of wealth which have grown out of its ages of sorrow, suffer- 
ing, and slavery. If Mr. George offers it land alone, it will 
turn its back upon him. It insists upon both land and tools. 
These it will get, either by the State Socialistic method of con- 
centrating the titles to them in the hands of one vast monopoly, 
or by the Anarchistic method of abolishing all monopolies, and 
thereby distributing these titles gradually among laborers 
through the natural channels of free production and exchange. 


[Liberty^ September 24, 1887.] 

Just as I have more respect for the Roman Catholic Chris- 
tian who believes in authority without qualification, than for 
the Protestant Christian who speaks in the name of liberty, 
but does not know the meaning of the word, so I have more 
respect for the State Socialist than for Henry George, and 
in the struggle between the two my sympathy is with the 
former. Nevertheless the State Socialists have only themselves 
to blame for the support they have hitherto extended to George, 
and the ridiculous figure that some of them now cut in their 
sackcloth and ashes is calculated to amuse. Burnette G. Has- 
kell, for instance. In his Labor Enquirer, previous to the 
issue of August 20, he had been flying the following flag : 
" For President in 1888, Henry George." But in that issue, 


having heard of the New York schism, he lowered his colors 
and substituted the following: "For President in 1888, any 
man who will go as the servant of the people and not as their 
' boss,' and who understands that poverty can only be abolished 
by the abolition of the competitive wage system and the inau- 
guration of State Socialism." When Haskell hoisted George's 
name, did he not know that his candidate believed that pov- 
erty was not to be abolished by the abolition of the wage sys- 
tem ? If he did not know this, his knowledge of his candi- 
date must have been limited indeed. If he did know it, the 
change of colors indicates, not the discarding of a leader, but 
a revolution in ideas. Yet Haskell is undoubtedly not con- 
scious of any revolution in his ideas, and would admit none. 
All of which tends to show that he has no ideas deiinite enough 
to be revolutionized. 


[Liberty, November 5, 1887.] 

There is much in Liberty to admire, and in Anarchism that I believe 
has a divine right of way. But I see little of these qualities in the criti- 
cisms made by Editor Tucker on the George movement, and much, as I 
think, of the exaggeration and inconsistency inherent in the Anarchistic 
temper and teachings. 

You have " more respect," you say, "for the State Socialist than for 
Henry George," and "in the struggle between the two your sympathy is 
with the former." This is vague, to say the least; and the meaning is 
not helped by the comparison with "the Roman Catholic who believes 
in authority without qualification, and the Protestant who speaks in the 
name of liberty, but does not know the meaning of the word." Such 
expressions seem to me to point no issue, but to dodge or confuse issues. 
The question is threefold, relating to tactics, spirit, and doctrine, which 
are not always one, or of the same relative importance. You do not 
say whether the expulsion of the Socialists was just, whether they acted 
in good faith as members of the United Labor party, or believed their 
doctrine had any logical filiation with its platform. This ought to have 
something to do with our "respect" and " sympathy." To hold to the 
belief of a Roman Catholic is one thing, and to enter an evangelical 
body as an emissary of the Pope is quite another. You seem to slur this 
issue in speaking merely of "the ridiculous figure the Socialists now cut 
in their sackcloth and ashes," for "ridiculous " is not a word of a very 
specific meaning. But your closing remark appears to be a contradiction 
of the first so praiseful of the simple stable views of the State Socialist ; 
for of the act of the Labor Enquirer in hoisting Henry George's name one 
day and pulling it down the next you say it shows, not a revolution in 
ideas, but that it had " no ideas definite enough to be revolutionized." 

LAND AiSiD RElsfT. jl^ 

And do you really believe that Protestantism is not an advance on 
Roman Catholicism; that such men as Luther, Wesley, Channing, are 
not as " respectable " as the Roman pontiffs ? Do you think the apos- 
tate or rebellious element in both Church and State is not as deserving 
of respect as the older body, simply because it does not reach the goal of. 
freedom at a bound ? Have you more sympathy with Asia than Europe, 
with Europe than America, with unqualified despotism than with a con- 
stitutional monarchy, with monarchy than with republicanism? And is 
there no room for theory or experiment between State Socialism and 
Anarchism, no foothold for large views and manly purposes ? Are 
Henry George and his co-workers of the class who " speak in the name 
of liberty, but do not know the meaning of the word " ? Is their talk and 
spirit rubbish by the side no tonly of Anarchism, but its opposite. State 
Socialism ? Did liberty have nothing to do with the writing of " Prog- 
ress and Poverty," — that book that has set so many to thinking and act- 
ing, and has done more to popularize the science of political economy 
than the writings of any dozen men, if not of all men, on that theme? 
Had liberty nothing to do with the starting of the Standard, the Anti- 
Poverty Society, the anointing of McGlynn, Pentecost, Huntington, 
Redpath, McGuire, and the rest of the new apostolate of freedoni ? I 
am aware there are things connected with this reform to which exceptions 
can and must be made ; but they do not prove it is not Liberty's offspring, 
an onward movement freighted with benefit for the race. 

Of a piece with this criticism is another article in the same number, in 
which you go even farther, and say : " Mr. George may as well under- 
stand first as last that labor will refuse to begin this world anew. It 
never will abandon even its present meagre enjoyment of wealth and the 
means of wealth which have grown out of its ages of sorrow, suffering, 
and slavery. If Mr. George offers it land alone, it will turn its back 
upon him. It insists upon both land and tools." That is an astounding 
assertion that he asks labor to " begin this world anew," and to " aban- 
don " what it already has, and ought to be backed by some show of argu- 
ment ; but I see none. How are the people to lose by being made their 
own landlords ? How are they to be robbed of their present advantages 
in having the land made free? Your whole argument, filling a column, 
is that "the city operative will not be tempted to leave what he has for 
the semi-barbarous condition of the backwoodsman without an axe, 
building a hut of mud, striking fire with flint and steel, and scratching a 
living with his finger nails"! Now, if the vacant lots and tracts of land 
in and about all the cities are brought into use by being built upon or 
cultivated, will not the stimulus given to industry and the increased op- 
portunity for emp'oyment resulting therefrom not only enable the oper- 
ative to buy an axe, rake, hoe, hammer, saw, and even a horse and 
plough ? And not only this, but to find a suitable patch of land without 
■ going so far beyond the boundaries of civilization as you imagine ? But 
the idea is not that every one will become a farmer or landowner, but 
that the cheapening and freeing of this primary factor of production, 
the land, will make it possible for those of very limited means and re- 
sources to do more for themselves and for the world than now, besides 
rendering capital' more active, more productive ; the clear tendency of 
which would be to relieve the labor market, and make the demand for 
labor greater than the supply, and so raise wages and secure to labor its 
just reward. And you do not see how this is in the interest of freedom ; 
how the freeing of land will enable men to become the possessors, not 
only of the tools they need, but of their individuality as well I Taking 



taxes off industry, and substituting therefor the social values given to 
land, you call retrogression, or rather " a remedy similar — for a part of 
mankind at least — to that attributed to the Nihilists, the total destruction 
of the existing social order, and the creation of a new one on its ruins "! 
This is wild talk, and is none the less so because of the use of the feeble 
adjective, " similar," and (he halting phrase, " at least a part of man- 
kind," which destroy the value of the comparison for the purpose of argu- 
ment, and, like the words "respect," "sympathy," "ridiculous," and 
" semi- barbarous," show that Liberty, the Anarchist organ /«;- excellence, 
may dogmatize instead of reason, and make personal dictum or caprice 
the standard of right. 

But there is something of more consequence than the vulnerable points 
in Liberty's logic, for it goes deeper. Granting that this reform does 
mean the creation of a new order involving losses and sacrifices to the 
individual for a generation, is that its condemnation ? Words cannot 
express my astonishment at the manner in which Liberty tells its read- 
ers that the city operative cannot be tempted "to begin life as a barbar- 
ian, even with the hope that in the course of a lifetime he may slightly 
improve his condition," for he would be a " fool " not to prefer to this 
the city with its "street bands," "shop windows," "theatres," and 
"churches," even though he have to " breathe tainted air " and "dress 
in rags." Ah, it is indeed true, as you say, " man does not live by bread 
alone," and for that reason he prefers pure air and independence along 
with isolation and struggle, to tainted air and serfdom along with brass 
bands and hand organs, gaudy windows, and Black Crook performances. 
But is that " beginning life as a barbarian," no matter with implements 
however rude, at places however remote from the cenlres of pride and 
luxury, with fruits of toil however slow in ripening, if the persons are 
moved by the thought of bettering, not their own condition merely, but 
that of the world, of the generations to come ? Have not the pioneers of 
freedom, the vanguards of civilization, again and again " begun life as 
the barbarian," so to speak? This reform, it is true, means "bread, " 
but bread for all, though there be luxury for none. We know the advan- 
tages of city life, and for that reason we would deny ourselves those ad- 
vantages in order that cities might spread and civilization expand. 

We want the earth, but do not mean to run away with if, there will 
still be plenty of room, — yes, more than before, far more. It will be the 
beginning, not the end, of reform; not the last step, but a great stride 
forward. Socialism and Anarchism will both have a better chance then 
than now. If the insufficiency of the principle is proven. For it is Social- 
istic in asserting the common ownership of the soil and governmental 
control of such things as are in their nature monopolies, while it is An- 
archistic in leaving all else to the natural channels of free production and 
exchange, to free contract and spontaneous co-operation. 

T. W. Curtis. 

Mr. Curtis's criticisms are based upon a series of misappre- 
hensions of Liberty's statements, and in one instance upon 
something that looks very like deliberate misrepresentation. 

In the first place, he misapprehends my expression of 
greater respect for and sympathy with the State Socialists than 
Henry George, seeming to think that this preference included 
in its sweep not only matters of doctrine, but matters of 
tactics and spirit. The form of my assertion shows that I 

LAND Akfi rEnT. 319 

confined it to doctrine simply. The declaration was t.iat I 
have more respect for the State Socialists than for George, 
''''just as I have more respect for the Roman Catholic Christian, 
who believes in authority without qualification, than for the 
Protestant Christian, (who speaks in the name of liberty, but 
does not know the meaning of the word." No one but Mr. 
Curtis would dream of inferring from these words that I prefer 
the tactics and spirit of Torquemada to those of Channing. 
I left tactics and spirit entirely aside in making the above 
statement. In respect to conduct I asserted superiority neither 
for the State Socialist nor for George. Whether the State Social- 
ists went to George or he went to them, or which seceded from 
or betrayed the other, are questions which interest me only in 
a minor degree. To me reason is the highest and grandest 
faculty of man; and I place George lower in my esteem than 
the State Socialist, because I consider him the greater offender 
against reason. This is the sense in which I prefer Catholicism 
to Protestantism, Asia to Europe, and monarchy to republi- 
canism. The Catholic, the Asiatic, and the monarch are more 
logical, more consistent, more straightforward, less corkscrewy, 
more strictly plumb-line than the Protestant, the European, 
and the republican. This is not a novel idea, and I am at a 
loss to account for Mr. Curtis's suprise over it. Did he never 
hear that there is no half-way house between Rome and 
Reason ? Likewise there is no room for logical, consistent 
theory or intelligent, systeriiatic experiment between State 
Socialism and Anarchism. There is plenty of room between 
them to jumble theories and to experiment blindly, but that is 
all. The pity is that room of this kind should be so popular. 
Yes, Henry George and his co-workers are of that class who 
" speak in the name of liberty, but do not know the meaning 
of the word." Mr. George has no conception of liberty as a 
universal social law. He happens to see that in some things it 
would lead to good results, and therefore in those things favors 
it. But it has never dawned upon his mind that disorder is 
the inevitable fruit of every plant which has authority for its 
root. As John F. Kelly says of him, " he is inclined to look 
with favor on the principle of laissez faire, yet he will abandon 
it at any moment, whenever regulation seems more likely to 
produce immediate benefits, regardless of the evils thereby 
produced by making the people less jealous of State interfer- 
ence." The nature of his belief in liberty is well illustrated 
by his attitude on the tariff' question. One would suppose from 
his generalization that he has the utmost faith in freedom of 
competition; but one does not realize how little this faith 

346 Instead of a bo6K. 

amounts to until he hears him, after making loud free-trade 
professions, propose to substitute a system of bounties for the 
tariff system. If such political and economic empiricism i^ 
not rubbish beside the coherent proposals of either Anar- 
chism or State Socialism, then I don't know chaff from wheat. 

Liberty, of course, had something to do with the writing of 
" Progress and Poverty." It also had something to do with the 
framing of divorce laws as a relief from indissoluble marriage. 
But the divorce laws, instead of being libertarian, are an 
express recognition of the rightfulness of authority over the 
sexual relations. Similarly " Progress and Poverty " expressly 
recognizes the rightfulness of authority over the cultivation 
and use of land. For some centuries now evolution has been 
little else than the history of liberty ; nevertheless all its fac- 
tors have not been children of liberty. 

Mr. Curtis tries to convict me of contradiction by pointing 
to my statement that Burnette Haskell, a State Socialist, has no 
definite ideas. This he thinks inconsistent with my praise of 
the simple stable views of the State Socialist. Here is where 
the color of misrepresentation appears. In order to make his 
point Mr. Curtis is obliged to quote me incorrectly. He attrib- 
utes to me the following phrase: "the ridiculous figure the 
Socialists now cut in their sackcloth and ashes." My real words 
were: " the ridiculous figure that some of them now cut in their 
sackcloth and ashes." It make's all the difference whether in 
this sentence I referred to the whole body of State Socialists 
or only to a few individuals among them. It was precisely 
because I was about to criticise the conduct of one State 
Socialist in order to show that he had no real idea of State 
Socialism that I felt it necessary to preface my criticism by 
separating doctrine from conduct and declaring my preference 
for the State Socialist over George in the matter of doctrine. 
But Mr. Curtis will have it that I took Haskell as a typical 
State Socialist, even if he has to resort to misquotation to 
prove it. 

He next turns his attention to the editorial on " Secondary 
Factors." He thinks that my assertion that George asks labor 
to " begin this world anew " ought to be backed by some show 
of argument. Gracious heavens ! I backed it at the begin- 
ning of my article by a quotation from George himself. Dis- 
lodged by his critics from one point after another, George had 
declared that " labor and land, even in the absence of second- 
ary factors obtained from their produce, have in their union to- 
day, as they had in the beginning, the potentiality of all that 
man ever has brought, or ever can bring, into being." When 


such words as these are used to prove that, if land were free, 
labor would settle on it, even without secondary factors, — that 
is, without tools,— what do they mean except that the laborer is 
expected to " begin this world anew " ? But if this is not 
enough for Mr. Curtis, may I refer him to the debate between 
George and Shewitch, in which tlie former, being asked by the 
latter what would have become of Friday if Crusoe had fenced 
off half the island and turned him loose upon it without any 
tools, answered that Friday would have made some fish-hooks 
out of bones and gone fishing ? Isn't that sufficiently prim- 
itive to substantiate my assertion, Mr. Curtis ? Tell Mr. 
George that the laborer can do nothing without capital, and he 
will answer you substantially as follows: Originally there was 
nothing but a naked man and the naked land ; free the land, 
and then, if the laborer has no tools, he will again be a naked 
man on naked land and can do all that Adam did. When 
I point out that such a return to barbarism is on a par with 
the remedy attributed to the Nihilists, the total destruction of 
the existing social order, Mr. Curtis asserts that " this is wild 
talk ; " but his assertion, it seems to me, " ought to be backed 
by some show of argument." 

He is sure, however, that there is no need of going to the 
backwoods. There is enough vacant land in the neighborhood 
of cities, he thinks, to employ the surplus workers, and thus 
relieve the labor market. But this land will not employ any 
workers that have no capital, and those that have capital can get 
the land now. Thus the old question comes back again. Make 
capital free by organizing credit on a mutual plan, and then 
these vacant lands will come into use, and then industry will 
be stimulated, and then operatives will be able to buy axes 
and rakes and hoes, and then they will be independent of 
their employers, and then the labor problem will be solved. 

My worst offence Mr. Curtis reserves till the last. It con- 
sists in telling the workingman that he would be a fool not to 
prefer the street bands, the shop windows, the theatres, and 
the churches to a renewal of barbaric life. Mr. Curtis again 
misapprehends me in thinking that I commend the bands, the 
windows, etc. I said explicitly that there is nothing ideal 
about them. But society has come to be man's dearest pos- 
session, and the advantages and privileges which I cited, 
crude and vulgar and base as some of them are, represent 
society to the operative. He will not give them up, and I 
think he is wise. Pure air is good, but no one wants to 
breathe it long alone. Independence is good, but isolation is 
oo heavy a price to pay for it. Both pure air and independ- 


ence must be reconciled with society, or not nialiy laborers 
will ever enjoy them. Luckily they can be and will be, 
though not by taxing land values. As for the idea that per- 
sons can be induced to become barbarians from altruistic 
motives in sufficient numbers to affect the labor market, it isi 
one that I have no time to discuss. In one respect at least ■ 
Mr. George is preferable to Mr. Curtis as an opponent : he 
usually deals in economic argument rather than sentimen- 


^Liberty, July i6, 1887.] 
To the Editor of Liberty : 

It pains me to see your frequenf attacks on Henry George, as they make 
the defenders of monopolies secure in the knowledge that there is discord 
in the ranks of the reformers. It appears to me — though I may be mis- 
taken and will gladly accept arguments and refutation — that one impor- 
tant point of the land question has escaped your attention, just as the vital 
point of the money question does not seem to be clear to the editor of the 
Standard. It is my conviction that in a state of perfect liberty, assuming 
the existence of "intelligent egoism," the people will combine for mutual 
protection, and among other things will enter a social compact creating an 
equitable right of property. They will also protect their members in the 
possession of the land they till, or on which they ply their trade or build 
their homes. But since some land possesses advantages over other 
land, they will demand an equitable remuneration for this protection and 
renunciation, especially if it can be shown to cost the consumers of what- 
ever is produced under these special advantages exactly as much as the 
holder of land is able to obtain as " rent " (Ricardo's " rent," John Stuart 
Mill's " unearned increment"). The community would therefore collect 
■ the rent in the form of taxes, — i.e., equitable pay for the right of posses- 
sion, — and, to be perfectly fair, should divide the proceeds among those 
consumers who, through the operation of the law of supply and demand, 
were forced to pay more than the average cost. But as such distribution 
would be practically impossible, the proceeds of this taxation should be 
used as nearly as possible to the advantage of those to whom it equitably 
belongs. Can you suggest a better disposal than Henry George does ? 
If so, we are ready to hear. But please admit, or else refute, the state- 
ment that the collection of rent by the community would be the natural 
outgrowth of equitable social compact entered for the sake of order and 
peace in a state of perfect liberty among intelligently egoistical beings. 

You cannot convince Henry George of the error of his position in rela- 
tion to capital, if you deride the truths he advances together with his 
errors. Let us reason together, and I am sure we can ultimately unite on 
one platform, — i.e., the abolition of all unjust laws, of which the permis- 
sion given to individual persons of appropriating the unearned increment 
(which has a natural, not an artificial, origin) is not by any means the 
least. Egoist. 

Philadelphia, May ii, 1887. 


My correspondent, who, by the way, is a highly intelligent 
man, and has a most clear understanding of the money ques- 
tion, should point out the truths that I have derided before 
accusing me of deriding any. I certainly never have derided 
the truth contained in Ricardo's theory of rent. What I have 
derided is Henry George's proposal that a majority of the 
people shall seize this rent by force and expend it for their 
own benefit, or perhaps for what they are pleased to consider 
the benefit of the minority. I have also derided many of the 
arguments by which Mr. George has attempted to justify this 
proposal, many of which he has used in favor of interest and 
other forms of robbery, and his ridiculous pretence that he is 
a champion of liberty. But I have never disputed that, under 
the system of land monopoly, certain individuals get, in the 
form of rent, a great deal that they never earned by their 
labor, or that it would be a great blessing if some plan should 
be devised and adopted whereby this could be prevented 
without violating the liberty of the individual. I am con- 
vinced, however, that the abolition of the money monopoly, 
and the refusal of protection to all land titles except those of 
occupiers, would, by the emancipation of the workingman from 
his present slavery to capital, reduce this evil to a very small 
fraction of its present proportions, especially in cities, and 
that the remaining fraction would be the cause of no more 
inequality than arises from the unearned increment derived 
by almost every industry from the aggregation of people or 
from that unearned increment of superior natural ability which, 
even under the operation of the cost principle, will probably 
always enable some individuals to get higher wages than the 
average rate. In all these cases the margin of difference 
will tend steadily to decrease, but it is not likely in any of 
them to disappear altogether. Whether, after the abolition 
of the State, voluntary co-operators will resort to communis- 
tic methods in the hope of banishing even these vestiges of 
inequality is a question for their own future consideration, 
and has nothing whatever to do with the scheme of Henry 
George. For my part, I should be inclined to regard such a 
course as a leap not from the frying-pan into the fire, but 
from a Turkish bath into the nethermost hell. I take no 
pleasure in attacking Mr. George, but shall probably pursue 
my present policy until he condescends to answer and refute 
my arguments, if hS can, or gives sorne satisfactory reason for 
declining to do so. 



\^Liberty, August 27, 1887.] 

To the Editor of Liberty ; 

Your reply of July 16, 1887, to my letter is not at all satisfactory to 
me. I cannot with m.y best endeavor harmonize your statement : " I am 
convinced, hon'ever, that the abolition of the money monopoly and the 
refusal of protection to all land uxXes except those of occupiers vionld , . , 
reduce this evil to a very small fraction of its present proportions" (the 
italics are mine), with your opposition to ait government. The natural 
inference of your statement is that you are in favor of protecting the 
occupier of land. Who is to give this protection ? Who is to wield this 
authority? As regards the application of authority, I can see a distinc- 
tion in degree only, none in principle, between the tacit, unwritten agree- 
ment of an uncultured tribe to ostracize the thief and wrong-doer and 
the despotic government of a tyrannical autocrat. Without authority of 
some kind rights cannot exist. The right of undisturbed possession, called 
ownership, is invariably the result of an agreement, by which all others 
not only abstain from taking possession, but even give assistance socially 
or physically, should any one trespass this agreement. But just therein 
consists the authority which the strong exercise over the weak, or the 
many over the few. In my opinion there can be no objection to such 
agreements or laws, when they are strictly based upon equity, — nay, they 
are the necessary basis of order and civilization ; they are, in fact, my 
ideal of a government. Only when they favor one class at the expense 
of another, when they are inequitable, can they become the instrument of 
oppression, and some men will find it to their supposed advantage to sup- 
port such laws by fair or unfair means, most frequently by making use of 
the ignorance and superstition of the masses, who are known to fly to 
arms and shed their blood even for the most tyrannical dictator. 

I understand you to favor the ownership of land based upon occupancy. 
You believe that under absolute individual freedom all men will abstain 
from disturbing the occupier of land in his possession. To this view I 
take exception. The choice spots will be coveted by others, and it is not 
human nature to relinquish any advantage without a sufficient cause. If 
you say the occupiers of these choice spots shotild be left undisturbed 
possessors without paying an equivalent for the special advantage they 
enjoy, you will find many of contrary opinion who must be coerced to 
this agreement. Egoism, when coupled with the knowledge that iniquity 
must inevitably lead to revolution, will accept as a most equitable condi- 
tion that in which the recipient of the necessary protection pays to the 
protector the value of the right of undisturbed possession ; in which he 
returns to those who agree to abandon to him a special natural or local 
advantage its full value — i.e., the unearned increment — as a compensation 
for the grant of the right of ownership. 

The defence of occupying ownership of land seems to me at a par with 
the frequent retort to money reformers that evervbody has an equal right 
to become a banker or a capitalist. An equitable relation will be pre- 
vented by the natural limitation of land in one, by the artifical limitation of 
the medium of exchange in the other case. You may perhaps have reason 
to object to applying the rent, after it has been collected, in the manner 


suggested by Henry George; but I fail to see how you can reasonably op- 
pose the collection of rent for the purpose of an equitable distribution. 

' Egoist. 

Egoist's acquaintance vfith. Liberty is of comparatively re- 
cent date, but it is hard to understand how he could have 
failed to find out from it that, in opposing all government, it so 
defines the word as to exclude the very thing which Egoist 
considers ideal government. It has been stated in these 
columns I know not how many times that government, 
Archism, invasion, are used here as equivalent terms ; that 
whoever invades, individual or St^te, governs and is an 
Archist ; and that whoever defends against invasion, individ- 
ual or voluntary association, opposes government and is an 
Anarchist. Now, a voluntary association doing equity would 
not be an invader, but a defender against invasion, and might 
include in its defensive operations the protection of the oc- 
cupiers of land. With this explanation, does Egoist perceive 
any lack of harmony in my statements ? Assuming, then, pro- 
tection by such a method, occupiers would be sure, no matter 
how covetous others might be. But now the question recurs : 
What is equity in the matter of land occupancy ? I admit at 
once that the enjoyment by individuals of increment which 
they do not earn is not equity. On the other hand, I insist 
that the confiscation of such increment by the State (not a 
voluntary association) and its expenditure for public purposes, 
while it might be a little nearer equity practically in that the 
benefits would be enjoyed (after a fashion) by a larger number 
of persons, would be exactly as far from it tl'^eoretically, 
inasmuch as the increment no more belongs equally to the 
public at large than to the individual land-holder, and would 
still be a long way from it even practically, for the minority, 
not being allowed to spend its share of the increment in its 
own way, would be just as truly robbed as if not allowed to 
spend it at all. A voluntary association in which the land- 
holders should consent to contribute the increment to the as- 
sociation's treasury, and in which all the members should 
agree to settle the method of its disposition by ballot, would 
be equitable enough, but would be a short-sighted, wasteful, 
and useless complication. A system of occupying ownership, 
however, accompanied by no legal power to collect rent, but 
coupled with the abolition of the State-guaranteed monopoly 
of money, thus making capital readily available, would dis- 
tribute the increment naturally and quietly among its rightful 
owners. If it should not work perfect equity, it would at least 
effect a sufficiently close approximation to it, and without 


trespassing at all upon the individualities of any. Spots are 
" choice " now very largely because of monopoly, and those 
which, under a system of free land and free money, should still 
remain choice for other reasons would shed their benefits upon 
all, just in the same way that choice countries under free 
trade will, as Henry George shows, make other countries 
more prosperous. When people see that such would be the 
result of this system, it is hardly likely that many of them will 
have to be coerced into agreeing to it. I see no point to 
Egoist's analogy in the first sentence of his last paragraph, un- 
less he means to deny the right of the individual to become a 
banker. A more pertinent analogy would be a comparison of 
the George scheme for the confiscation of rent with a system 
of individual banking of which the State should confiscate 
the profits. 


{Liierty, October 13, 1888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

You have more than once expressed the view that in an Anarchistic 
state even the police protection may be in private hands and subject to 
competition, so that whoever needs protection may hire it from which- 
ever person or company he chooses. Now, suppose two men wish to oc- 
cupy the same piece of land and appeal to rival companies for protection. 
What will be the result ? 

It appears ^o me that there will be interminable contention as long as 
there is a plurality of protectors upon the same territory, and that ulti- 
mately all others must submit to, or be absorbed by, one, to which all who 
need protection must apply. If I am right, then Anarchy is impossible, 
and an equitable democratic government the only stable form of society. 
Moreover, as it can be shown that the value of the protection to the pos- 
session of land equals its economic rent, free competition will make the 
payment of this rent a condition of protection. Thus the payment of 
rent would become an essential feature in the contract between the land- 
holder and the government, — in other words, the payment of rent to the 
people as a whole will become one of the features of that social system of 
an intelligent people which must evolve from anarchy by the process of 
natural selection. Egoist. 

Under the influence of competition the best and cheapest 
protector, like the best and cheapest tailor, would doubtless 
get the greater part of the business. It is conceivable even 
that he might get the whole of it. But if he should, it would 
be by his virtue as a protector, not by his power as a tyrant. 
He would be kept at his best by the possibility of conipetitioi;' 


and the fear of it; and the source of power would always re- 
main, not with him, but with his patrons, who would exercise 
it, not by voting him down or by forcibly putting another in 
his place, but by withdrawing their patronage. Such a state 
of things, far from showing the impossibility of Anarchy, 
would be Anarchy itself, and would have little or nothing in 
common with what now goes by the name of " equitable dem- 
ocratic government." 

If " it can be shown that the value of the protection to the 
possession of land equals its economic rent," the demonstra- 
tion will be interesting. To me it seems that the measure of 
such value must often include many other factors than 
economic rent. A man may own a home the economic rent 
of which is zero, but to which he is deeply attached by many 
tender memories. Is the value of protection in his possession 
of that home zero ? But perhaps Egoist means the exchange 
value of protection. If so, I answer that, under free compe- 
tition, the exchange value of protection, like the exchange 
value of everything else, would be its cost, which might in any 
given case be more or less than the economic rent. The con- 
dition of receiving protection would be the same as the con- 
dition of receiving beefsteak, — namely, ability and willingness 
to pay the cost thereof. 

If I am right, the payment of rent, then, would not be an 
essenita/ ieatuie in the contract between the landholder and 
the protector. It is conceivable, however, though in my judg- 
ment unlikely, that it might be found an advantageous feature. 
If so, protectors adopting that form of contract would distance 
their competitors. But if one of these protectors should ever 
say to landholders : " Sign this contract ; if you do not, I not 
only will refuse you protection, but I will myself invade you 
and annually confiscate a portion of your earnings equal to 
the economic rent of your land," I incline to the opinion that 
" intelligent people " would sooner or later, " by the process of 
natural selection," evolve into Anarchy by rallying around 
these landholders for the formation of a new social and protec- 
tive system, which would subordinate the pooling of economic 
rents to the security of each individual in the possession of 
the raw materials which he uses and the disposition of the 
wealth which be thereby produces. 



ILiierty, October 27, 1888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

Referring to your favored reply of October 13, I fail to find an answer 
to the question as to the result of the attempt of two rival protectors to 
secure to different persons the same territory. I cannot see how, under 
such conditions, a physical conflict can be avoided, (i) nor is it clear why 
the best and cheapest protector will be most patronized if he is not at the 
same time the strongest. It would be the power rather than the quality 
of protection that would secure patronage. (2) But if the tyrant by 
sophistry could convince the masses, as he now does, that his policy is 
to their benefit and could obtain their support, Anarchy would inevitably 
lead to despotism. (3) The present State, to my mind, is indeed the nat- 
ural outgrowth of Anarchy, its absurd character being due to shortsighted 
intelligence and sustained by a copious amount of sophistry. (4) 

My remarks about equity do certainly not refer to what is now termed 
equity, but to the genuine article. 

The statement that the value of the protection in the possession of land 
equals its economic rent I consider true, even if there is no direct laboi 
of protection involved. 

By rent I mean, of course, that which Ricardo terms rent, — i. e., the dif' 
ference between the productivity of a particular piece of land and the 
marginal productivity; the excess of the value of a product over the value 
of the labor producing it. 

The observation regarding the sentimental value of protection is cer- 
tainly out of place, since in economic discussion none other than exchange 
value can be considered. (5) Even in a society in which the policeman is 
superfluous, the value of protection in the possession of land can be shown 
to be equal to its economic rent. The right of possession to land consists 
in an agreement of the people to forego the special advantages which the 
use of such lands affords to an undisturbed possessor. It represents a 
giving-up, by the community, of that which they could obtain for them- 
selves, — the cost of the community being certainly that which they have 
relinquished, and equals in value the special advantage which is the cause 
of rent. In view of this, it seems to me that affording this protection is 
to the community an expense equal to the rent. (6) Moreover, assuming 
that owing to the favorable locality or fertility (eliminating a difference 
of skill or other merit) the production on that land of one year's labor (say 
three hundred days) will exchange for five hundred days' of other men's 
labor who must work without such special advantages, it will be difficult 
to show that the occupier of that land is equitably entitled to this ex- 
change value. (7) Those who buy his products really produce and act- 
ually pay the excess of two hundred days' labor. Are they not entitled 
to a distribution of this rent which they, in the course of exchange, have 
paid to him ? If the people of a community are endowed with intelligent 
egoism, they cannot give that protection to any one who is not willing to 
pay the rent ; and, if the occupier refuses to do so, the right of occupa- 
tion will simply be given to one who is willing. (8) This is no invasion, 
but a bargain, (g) What right has he to expect the community to secure 
him an opportunity to make inequitable exchanges, (lo) when others are 
willing to pay the full value of the advantages offered, whereby equity 


is established? I can conceive of no other individualistic measure (11) 
oy which the cost principle of value can be realized in those cases in 
which the cost of producing equal quantities is different on account of 
a variation of local opportunities than to add rent to the cost where the 
immediate cost is naturally less than the value of the product. All men 
are then upon an equitable plane regarding the gifts of nature; and none 
can, as none should in this respect, have an advantage that is not sim- 
ilarly enjoyed by all. (12) Egoist. 

(i) A physical conflict may or may not occur. The prob- 
abiHty of it is inversely proportional to the amount of educa- 
tion in economics and social science acquired by the people 
prior to the inauguration of the conditions supposed. If gov- 
ernment should be abruptly and entirely abolished to-morrow, 
there would probably ensue a series of physical conflicts about 
land and many other things, ending in reaction and a revival 
of the old tyranny. But if the abolition of government shall 
take place gradually, beginning with the downfall of the money 
and land monopolies and extending thence into one field after 
another, it will be accompanied by such a constant acquisition 
and steady spreading of social truth that, when the time shall 
come to apply the voluntary principle in the supply of police 
protection, the people will rally as promptly and universally to 
the support of the protector who acts most nearly in accord- 
ance with the principles of social science as they now rally to 
the side of the assaulted man against his would-be murderer. 
In that case no serious conflict can arise. 

(2) Egoist neglects to consider my statement in reply to him 
in the last issue of Liberty, to the effect that the source of the 
protector's power lies precisely in the patronage. The pro- 
tector who is most patronized will, therefore, be the strongest; 
and the people will endow with their power the protector 
who is best fitted to use it in the administration of justice. 

(3) That is to say, if the masses, or any large section of 
them, after having come to an understanding and acceptance 
of Anarchism, should then be induced by the sophistry of 
tyrants to reject it again, despotism would result. This is 
perfectly true. No Anarchist ever dreamed of denying it. 
Indeed, the Anarchist's only hope lies in his confidence that 
people who have once intelligently accepted his principle will 
"stay put." 

(4) The present State cannot be an outgrowth of Anarchy, 
because Anarchy, in the philosophic sense of the word, has 
never existed. For Anarchy, after all, means something more 
than the possession of liberty. Just as Ruskin defines wealth 
as " the possession of the valuable by the valiant," so Anarchy 
may be defined as the possession of liberty by libertarians, — 


that is, by those who know what liberty means. The barbaric 
jliberty but of which the present State developed was not 
Anarchy in this sense at all, for those who possessed it had not 
the slightest conception of its blessings or of the line that 
divides it from tyranny. 

(5) Nothing can have value in the absence of demand for 
it. Therefore the basis of the demand cannot be irrelevant in 
considering value. Now, it is manifest that the demand for 
protection in the possession of land does not rest solely upon 
excess of fertility or commercial advantage of situation. On 
the contrary, it rests, in an ever-rising degree and among an 
ever-increasing proportion of the people, upon the love of 
security and peace, the love of home, the love of beautiful 
scenery, and many other wholly sentimental motives. Inas- 
much, then, as the strength of some of the motives for the de- 
mand of protection bears often no relation to economic rent, 
the value of such protection is not necessarily equal to eco- 
nomic rent. Which is the contrary of Egoist's proposition. 

(6) All this legitimately follows, once having admitted Ego- 
ist's definition of the right of possession of land. But that 
definition rests on an assumption which Anarchists deny, — 
namely, that there is an entity known as the community which 
is the rightful owner of all land. Here we touch the central 
point of the discussion. Here I take issue with Egoist, and 
maintain that " the community" is a nonentity, that it has no 
existence, and that what is called the community is simply a 
combination of individuals having no prerogatives beyond 
those of the individuals themselves. This combination of in- 
dividuals has no better title to the land than any single indi- 
vidual outside of it ; and the argument which Egoist uses in 
behalf of the community this outside individual, if he but had 
the strength to back it up, might cite with equal propriety in 
his own behalf. He might say : " The right of possession of 
land consists in an agreement on my part to forego the special 
advantages which the use of such land affords to an undis- 
turbed possessor. It represents a giving-up, by me, of that 
which I could obtain for myself, — the cost to me being cer- 
tainly that which I have relinquished, and equals in value the 
special advantage which is the cause of rent. In view of this. 
It seems to me that affording this protection is to me an ex- 
pense equal to the rent." And thereupon he might proceed 
to collect this rent from the community as compensation for 
the protection which he afforded it in allowing it to occupy 
the land. But in his case the supposed condition is lacking ; 
he has not the strength necessary to enforce such an argu- 


ftient as this. The community, or combination of individuals, 
has this strength. Its only superiority to the single individual, 
then, in relation to the land, consists in the right of the strong- 
est, — a perfectly valid right, I admit, but one which, if exer- 
cised, leads to serious results. If the community proposes 
to exercise its right, of the strongest, why stop with the col- 
lection of economic rent ? Why not make the individual its 
slave outright ? Why not strip him of everything but the 
bare necessities of life ? Why recognize him at all, in any 
way, except as a tool to be used in the interest of the com- 
munity ? In a word, why not do precisely what capitalism 
is doing now, or else what State Socialism proposes to do 
when it gets control of affairs ? But if the community does 
not propose to go to this extreme ; if it proposes to recognize 
the individual and treat with him, — then it must forego en- 
tirely its right of the strongest, and be ready to contract on a 
basis of equality of rights, by which the individual's title to 
the land he uses and to what he gets out of it shall be held 
valid as against the world. Then, if the individual consents 
to pool his rent with others, well and good ; but, if not— 
why, then, he must be left alone. And it will not do for the 
community to turn upon him and demand the economic rent 
of his land as compensation for the " protection " which it 
affords him in thus letting him alone. As well might the 
burglar say to the householder : " Here, I can, if I choose, 
enter your house one of these fine nights and carry off your 
valuables; I therefore demand that. you immediately hand 
them over to me as compensation for the sacrifice which I 
make and the protection which I afford you in not doing so." 

(7) Precisely as difficult as it would be to show that the man 
of superior skill (native, not acquired) who produces in the 
ratio of five hundred to another's three hundred is equitably 
entitled to this surplus exchange value. There is no more 
reason why we should pool the results of our lands than the 
results of our hands. And to compel such pooling is as meddle- 
some and tyrannical in one case as in the other. That school 
of Socialistic economists which carries Henry George's idea to 
its conclusions, confiscating not only rent but interest and 
profit and equalizing wages, — a school of which G. Bernard 
Shaw may be taken as a typical representative, — is more logical 
than the school to which Mr. George and Egoist belong, be- 
cause it completes the application of the tyrannical principle. 

(8) Here again we have the assumption of the community's 
superior title to the land. 


(9) Yes, the bargain of the highwayman to deliver another's 

(10) The cultivator of land who does not ask protection 
does not expect the community to secure him the opportunity 
referred to. He simply expects the community not to deprive 
him of this opportunity. He does not say to the community : 
" Here ! an invader is trying to oust me from my land ; come 
and help me to drive him off." He says to the community: "My 
right to this land is as good as yours. In fact it is better, for 
I am already occupying and cultivating it. I demand of you 
simply that you shall not disturb me. If you impose certain 
burdens upon me by threatening me with dispossession, I, 
being weaker than you, must of course submit temporarily. 
But in the mean time I shall teach the principle of liberty to 
the individuals of which you are composed, and by and by, 
when they see that you are oppressing me, they will espouse 
my cause, and your tyrannical yoke will speedily be lifted from 
my neck." 

(11) "Ho other! Is Egoist's measure individualistic, then ? 
I have already pointed out its communistic and authoritarian 

(12) If the cost principle of value cannot be realized other- 
wise than by compulsion, then it had better not be realized. 
For my part, I do not believe that it is possible or highly 
important to realize it absolutely and completely. But it is both 
possible and highly important to effect its approximate realiza- 
tion. So much can be effected without compulsion, — in fact, 
can only be effected by at least partial abolition of compulsion, 
— and so much will be sufficient. By far the larger part of the 
violations of the cost principle — probably nine-tenths — result 
from artificial, law-made inequalities ; only a small portion 
arise from natural inequalities. Abolish the artificial monopo- 
lies of money and land, and interest, profit, and the rent of 
buildings will almost entirely disappear ; ground rents will 
no longer flow into a few hands ; and practically the only 
inequality remaining will be the slight disparity of products 
due to superiority of soil and skill. Even this disparity will 
soon develop a tendency to decrease. Under the new eco- 
nomic conditions and enlarged opportunities resulting from 
freedom of credit and land classes will tend to disappear; 
great capacities will not be developed in a few at the expense 
of stunting those of the many ; talents will approximate 
towards equality, though their variety will be greater than 
ever ; freedom of locomotion will be vastly increased ; the 
toilers will no longer be anchored in such large numbers in the 

LAtJD AND RENl'. 53^ 

present commercial centres, and thus made subservient to the 
city landlords; -territories and resources never before utilized 
will become easy of access and development; and under all 
these influences the disparity above mentioned will decrease to 
a minimum. Probably it will never disappear entirely; on'the 
other hand, it can never become intolerable. It must always 
remain a comparatively trivial consideration, certainly never 
to be weighed for a moment in the same scale with liberty. 


\Lilierty^ December 15, 1888.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

Encouraged by the prompt and considerate attention given to my 
letter (in your issue of October 27), I beg leave to continue the discussion, 
especially since some of your arguments are not at all clear to me. 

You say that my definition of the right of possession of land rests on 
an assumption " that there is an entity known as the community, which is 
the rightful owner of all land." I do not understand what you mean by 
" rightful ownership." Ownership outside of a combination of individuals 
is to me as inconceivable as "distance" would be were there but one 
grain of matter in the universe. And regarding the community formed 
by a compact entered into or sanctioned by a dynamic majority of indi- 
viduals as an entity, I can conceive only the physical relation of " pos- 
session " and that of " ability to maintain it " ; but " ownership " I can 
recognize only as the result of thisability of the community, applied for the 
benefit of individuals. Hence I deny that my definition is based upon 
the premise stated by you, unless you have a conception of the term 
" ownership " unknown to me. (i) If I had " the strength to back it up," 
all land would be mine, and egoism would prompt me to dominate over 
mankind as naturally as mankind now dominates over the animal king- 
dom. (2) But since my egoism is not coupled with such a power, sub- 
mission to the stronger is a necessity which maybe good or evil. "Com- 
munity " I only mention in recognition of its supreme power. It can 
have and need have no title to the land while there is no other power 
capable of successfully disputing its possession, a title being nothing else 
than an effective promise of those who wield the supreme power. Nor 
can I agree that the right of the strongest will lead to serious results, 
except when applied to create an inequitable relation between individ- 
uals ; and for the same reason that I advocate the distribution of rent as 
conducive to the establishment of an equilibrium, I do object to the 
collection of any other tribute. (3) Suppose I were to discover a gold 
mine that would enable me to command, by one hour's work, one year's 
labor of other men: a refusal to pool the rent with others with the expecta- 
tion to be let alone in the exclusive enjoyment of this mine would imply 
that I consider all others to be devoid of even a trace of egoism, which 
my experience forbids. (4) There is one vital difference between the ad- 
vantage which a man possesses by reason of superior skill and that due 


to the possession of valuable local opportunities : the one is inseparably 
attached to the individual; the other can be transferred by a mere transfer 
of the possession of the territory. The former will therefore always re- 
main the individual's; the disposition of the latter will invariably be con- 
trolled by the strongest. (5) 

If you can convince the majority that occupation is the proper title for 
the ownership of land, your measure will be adopted. But local oppor- 
tunities being of dififerent values and the most valuable limited, those 
who are less liberally provided by the existing social conditions will covet 
the superior advantages possessed by others. This dissatisfaction, this 
germ of social disturbances and revolutions, %vill grow as the existing 
valuable opportunities are more and more appropriated and those who 
must do without them increase in numbers. Under such conditions it 
will be easy to convince the masses that, by giving the local opportunities 
to the highest bidder and equitably distributing the rent, all will feel that 
they have an equal share in the blessings of social peace and all egoism 
in that direction is as fully satisfied as any intelligent man can expect. (6) 

As to the question of how to accomplish the end and what to do first, 
I agree with you when you wish the first blow directed against the monop- 
olization of the medium of exchange ; I only hold that, if the social 
state following would not imply a nationalization of the rent, the measure 
would be incomplete. (7) 

From all appearances the differences between us is this : You consider 
that the rule of the superior will invariably lead to serious results, and in 
this respect you place yourself in opposition to what must naturally 
result from an association of egoists, i.e., the rule of the superior, while 
I hold that superior ability will always rule and that this rule will be 
beneficial if administered so that no individual has any reasonable cause 
for complaint, which implies that all have an equal share in the transfer- 
able opportunities. I admit that what I consider a reasonable cause may 
not be so considered by others : the decision must be left to the intelli- 
gence of the people, as there is no other tribunal. (8) 


(i) It vi^as only because I conceived it out of the question 
that Egoist, in maintaining that " the value of protection in 
the possession of land is equal to its economic rent," could 
be discussing value without regard to the law of equal 
liberty as a prior condition, or soberly advocating the exercise 
of the right of might regardless of equity, that I interpreted 
his words as implying a superiority in equity in the com- 
munity's title to land over that of the individual, — a superiority 
other than that of might ; a superiority, in short, other than 
that by which the highwayman relieves the traveller of his 
goods. I was bound to suppose (and later statements in his 
present letter seem to strengthen the supposition) that he 
looked upon the " giving up, by the community," of its right 
to land as the giving up of a superior equitable right ; for 
otherwise, in demanding value in return for this sacrifice, he 
would be compelled in logic to demand, on behalf of a burglar, 
value in return for the sacrifice made in declining to carry off 

tAND AND RENf. 335 

a householder's wealth by stealth. But Egoist repudiates 
this supposition (though he does not follow the logic of his 
repudiation), and I must take him at his word. He thus lays 
himself open to a retort which I could not otherwise have 
made. In his previous letter he criticised me for making 
sentiment a factor in the estimation of value. Whether or not 
this was a transgression, on my part, of the limits of economic 
discussion, he certainly has transgressed them much more 
seriously in making force such a factor. Exchange implies 
liberty ; where there is no liberty there is no exchange, but 
only robbery ; and robbery is foreign to political economy. 
At least one point, however, is gained. Between Egoist and 
myself all question of any superior equitable right of the com- 
munity is pvit aside forever. Equity not considered, we agree 
that the land belongs to the man or body of men strong 
enough to hold it. And for all practical purposes his definition 
of "ownership" suits me, though I view ownership less as the 
"result of .the ability of the community to maintain posses- 
sion " and an application of this result " for the benefit of 
individuals," than as a result of the inability of the community 
to maintain itself in peace and security otherwise than by the 
recognition of only such relations between man and wealth as 
are in harmony with the law of equal liberty. In other words, 
ownership arises not from superiority of the community to the 
individual, but from the inferiority of the community to the 
facts and powers of nature. 

(2) This would depend upon whether such domination 
would prove profitable or disastrous to Egoist. I contend- 
that it would prove disastrous, and that experience would lead 
him to abandon such a policy if foresight should not prevent 
him from adopting it. 

(3) Here we have an acknowledgment of a principle of 
equity and a contemplation of its observance by the mighty, 
which goes to sustain my original supposition, despite Ego- 
ist's protest. It implies an abandonment by the mighty of 
their right of domination and a willingness to contract with the 
weak. Now, I agree that the contracts thus entered into will 
not lead to serious results, unless they create inequitable rela- 
tions between individuals. But the first of all equities is not 
equality of material well-being, but equality of liberty ; and if 
the contract places the former equality before the latter, it will 
lead to serious results, for it logically necessitates the arbitrary 
levelling of all material inequalities, whether these arise from 
differences of soil or differences of skill. To directly enforce 
equality of material well-being is meddlesome, invasive, and 

^3^ lNsT:6Ab OF A fe66K. 

offensive, but to directly enforce equality of liberty is simply 
protective and defensive. The latter is negative, and aims 
only to prevent the establishment of artificial inequalities ; 
the former is positive, and aims at direct and active abolition 
of natural inequalities. If the former is the true policy, then 
it is as equitable to enforce the pooling of interest, profit, and 
wages as the pooling of rent. If the latter is the true policy, 
we have only to see to it that no artificial barriers against indi- 
vidual initiative are constructed. Under such conditions, if 
the natural inequalities tend to disappear, as they surely will, 
then so much the better. 

(4) Not at all. It would only imply that Egoist considers 
others wise enough to see that, from the standpoint of self- 
interest, even so great a natural inequality as is here supposed 
is preferable to an arbitrary distribution of the products of 

(5) In speaking of skill as " inseparably attached to the 
individual," Egoist surely does not mean to argue the impossi- 
bility of seizing and distributing the results of skill, for that 
would be a ridiculous contention. Then he can only mean 
that there is something sacred about the individual which the 
mighty are bound to respect. But this again is inconsistent 
with his theory of the right of might. If the strongest is to 
exercise his might, then he need stop at nothing but the im- 
possible ; if, on the other hand, he contracts with the weaker 
on a basis of equal liberty, then both strong and weak must 
be left secure in their possession of the products of their 
labor, whether aided by superior skill or superior soil. 

(6) This is not true, unless Malthusianism is true ; and, if 
Malthusianism is true, it is as true after the pooling of rent as 
before. If the encroachment of population over the limit of 
the earth's capacity is inevitable, then there is no solution of 
the social problem. Pooling the rent or organizing credit 
would only postpone the catastrophe. Sooner or later the 
masses would find nothing to share but the curses of war rather 
than the " blessings of peace," and at that stage it would mat- 
ter but little to them whether they shared equally or unequally. 

(7) And I only hold that, if in that case rent were to be 
nationalized by force, liberty would be incomplete ; and liberty 
must be complete, whatever happens. 

(8) No, I too hold that superiority will always rule ; and it 
is only when real superiority is known and recognized as such, 
a,nd therefore allowed to have its perfect work unresisted and 
unimpeded, that the minimum of evil will result. The really 
serious results are those that follow the attempts of inferiority, 

LAND AND RfiNf. ^3^ 

tnistaking itself for superiority, to fiy in the face of the real 
article. In other words, when individuals or majorities, seeing 
that they are stronger for the time being than other individuals 
or minorities, suppose that they are therefore stronger than 
natural social laws and act in violation of them, disaster is 
sure to follow. These laws are the really mighty, and they will 
always prevail. The first of them is the law of equal liberty. 
It is by the observance of this law, I am persuaded, rather than 
by " an equal share in the transferable opportunities," that the 
ultimate " intelligence of the people " will remove " every rea- 
sonable cause of complaint." 


{^Liberty, January 19, 1889.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

I must confess that I may not fully grasp what its advocates exactly 
mean by Anarchism. Referring to the reply to my letter, in the issue of 
December 15, I cannot harmonize the sentiments of an opponent of even 
a temporary monopoly of inventors and authors with the defence of an 
indefinite monopoly of the discoverer of a gold mine. Moreover, the 
reference to the " law of equal liberty " appears to me inconsistent with 
your standpoint. If I understand this law, it can be thus expressed : 
Given a community of intelligent beings, who wish to live in peace and 
enjoy a maximum of happiness, what must they do to attain this result ? 
Proposition : They must mutually combine and form such an agreement 
as will secure equal freedom to all ; and if any one takes liberties at the 
expense of others, he must be restrained, even by force, if necessary. 

This, however, appears to me a sound democratic doctrine and a repu- 
diation of the doctrine of non-interference. Without a forcible measure 
against transgressors, equal freedom is unattainable. Force, therefore, 
appears to be a most important factor in political economy, the creator 
of all rights. Now, in respect to rent, I would advocate compulsion 
against those only who violate the law of equal freedom in relation to 
local opportunities. Surely, if I had discovered a gold mine, unless I 
knew that the supreme power of society would protect me uncondition- 
ally in the sole possession, I would willingly give the economic rent, in 
order to prevent others, less blessed in the possession of natural oppor- 
tunities, from doing that which their egoism would naturally prompt them 
to do. This you appear to recognize in your answer. (2) Only those 
who fail to see that peaceful enjoyment of man's labor depends upon so- 
cial equality will expect to occupy land free, for the possession of which 
others are willing to give a consideration, and they must suffer the nat- 
ural consequences, either by the invasion of the State, in confiscating 
rent, or by the more disastrous interference in the form of social disturb- 
ances and revolutions. 

You are correct in surmising that I can recognize no right but that of 
might or ability, not referring, of course, to that concept of the ambiguous 

33^ INStEAti Of* A Book. 

term "right" which is synonymous with righteousness; arid as to that 
might which results from the social compact, I must accept it as a social 
right, whether or not it is in harmony with my notions of what it should 
be. This, however, does not prevent me from protesting and agitating 
against any of the laws that violate equity, being convinced that inequitable 
laws will bring disaster unless abolished before the oppression leads to 
extreme measures. Enlightened self-interest is no doubt the most forcible 
incentive to maintain equity, and history amply proves that the strong 
will never enter into a compact with the weak unless their power is 
threatened. This does not preclude the power of the weaker from being 
reinforced by the compassion of a portion of the strong ; sentiment, in 
this sense, has often an indirect influence in the distribution of the social 
power. Our aim, as individualists, should therefore be to so direct the 
power of the State that it will maintain the equal liberty of all. 


I find so little attempt to meet the various considerations 
which I have advanced that I have not much to add by way 
of comment. The monopoly of mining gold at a particular 
point exists in the physical constitution of things, and a pool- 
ing of the results thereof (which would be a virtual destruction 
of the monopoly) can only be directly achieved in one of two 
ways, — mutual agreement or an invasion of liberty. The 
monopoly of inventors and authors, on the contrary, has no 
existence at all except by mutual agreement or an invasion of 
liberty. It seems to me the difference between the two is 
sufficiently clear. Egoist's statement of the law of equal lib- 
erty is satisfactory. Standing upon it, I would repel, by force 
if necessary, the confiscator of rent on the ground that he 
" takes a liberty at the expense of others." I have no objec- 
tion to forcible measures against transgressors, but the ques- 
tion recurs as to who are the transgressors. If the piece of 
land which I am using happens to be better than my neigh- 
bor's, I do not consider myself a transgressor on that account ; 
but if my neighbor digs some of my potatoes and carries 
them off, I certainly consider him a transgressor, even though 
he may name his plunder economic rent. But Egoist, view- 
ing this case, considers me the transgressor and my neighbor 
the honest man. I believe that education in liberty will 
bring people to my view rather than his. If it doesn't, I 
shall have to succumb. It is to be noted that Egoist makes 
no further reference to my argument regarding skill. I urged 
that the levelling of inequalities in land logically leads to, the 
levelling of inequalities in skill. Egoist replied that skill is in- 
separably attached to the individual, while land is not. I 
rejoined that the results of skill are not inseparably attached 
to the individual, and that the right of might recognizes noth- 
ing sacred about the individual. To this Egoist makes no 


reply. Hence my argument that the nationalization of rent 

logically ihvolves the most complete State Socialism and 
minute regulation of the individual stands unassailed. 


[LiSerijy^ February 23, i88g.] 

To the Editor of Liberty : 

Before replying to your rejoinder regarding land vs. skill, I should be 
pleased to know whether in an Anarchistic state, in the event of a trans- 
gression of equal liberty, tTie injured party is to resent the act according 
to his judgment and caprice, or is repression to be exercised by an organ- 
ized power according to rules determined by previous agreement ? In 
the one case the unavoidable difference of opinions must be a source of 
interminable disturbances ; in the other, we have the operation of an or- 
ganized society with laws and supreme power, — in fact, a political State. 
If an agreement exists, who is to execute its provisions ? And if some 
refuse to assist, and shirk social duties, have they any claim to the assist- 
ance of the organization, have they any social rights ? Until we have a 
clear understanding on these points, we might argue forever without avail. 

Assuming that equal liberty can be attained only through some social 
compact, I fail to see a distinction between the monopoly of a gold-mine 
and that of an invention. The exclusive possession of either is the result 
of a social compact, all persons agreeing not to exploit the natural deposit 
of the precious metal, or to make use of the device suggested by the in- 
ventor. The monopoly of a gold-mine can, therefore, have no existence 
except by mutual agreement, or eventually a forcible prevention of those 
who claim equal liberty and attempt to extract gold from the same de- 
posit. In like manner, every other peaceable enjoyment of a natural or 
local advantage is a result of mutual agreement, supported by the power 
without which the agreement would be a dead letter. The occupier of su- 
perior land or location is therefore indebted to society for the right of un- 
disturbed possession, and a society of egoists will natually confer this 
right to the highest bidder, who will then, as now, determine the rent. 
An occupier is not a transgressor of equal liberty unless he claims and re- 
ceives this right without giving an equivalent in return, and the return is 
equitable if it equals what others are willing to give for the same right. 

If we keep this, in view, I may be able to more intelligently convey my 
views on the land vs. skill question. The social agreement, and not the 
"physical constitution of things," is the factor determining the distribu- 
tion of land, while the distribution of skill is absolutely independent of 
this agreement, depending upon the physical and mental constitution of 
men. Some men may have reason to be dissatisfied with the distribution 
of land, knowing that it can be changed, while a dissatisfaction with the 
distribution of skill is like the crying of a child because it cannot fly. 

Having shown that a vital difference exists between land and skill, the 
distribution of the one being due to human laws, that of the other to 
natural laws, I wish to further demonstrate that only by inequitable, des- 
potic laws can an equalization of natural opportunities be prevented. 

In a state of liberty rent will invariably be offered, by the occupiers of 


the poorest land yet needed, for the possession of better or more favor- 
ably located land. Shall law forbid such offers, or invalidate contracts 
made in compliance therewith, incidentally suppressing competition ; shall 
it permit certain individuals, i.the so-called land-owners, to appropriate this 
rent ; or shall society so distribute it that no citizen has any reason to 
complain of political favoritism ? Is there a fourth possibility, and if 
not, which of the three is consistent with the law of equal freedom? 
Which tend to establish artificial inequalities? I reiterate my convic- 
tion that a nationalization of rent will be an inevitable result of the estab- 
lishment of equal liberty. 

If I were the possessor of land on which the productivity of labor ex- 
ceeds that obtainable on land held by others, they would be willing to 
lease my land and pay a rent of nearly the excess of productivity. But 
since under the system of occupying land-ownership such a contract must 
be void, I shall never vacate the land, whatever inducements should be 
offered me ; for, upon leaving it, I and my descendants would forever re- 
ceive for the same efforts a less return than if I had retained possession 
of the said land. If for any reason some valuable land should become va- 
cant, the number of applicants would naturally be very large. Each would 
be willing to give very nearly the annual excess of productivity afforded 
by this land, in his competitive attempt to outbid others. Who shall be- 
come the future occupier ? Shall appointment decide, or shall the land be 
given to the highest bidder ? In the one case, favoritism would reign ; in 
the other, the nationalization of rent would be realized, which you condemn. 
Moreover, it production is carried on in groups, as it now is, who is the legal 
occupier of the land ? The employer, the manager, or the ensemble of 
those engaged in the co-operative work ? The latter appearing the only 
rational answer, it is natural that those in possession of the lesser oppor- 
tunities will offer themselves lo the favored groups for wages slightly 
greater than what they can obtain on the less favorable land and less than 
the members of the favored group would obtain as a share of their co-op- 
eration (which is only another form of an offer of rent). But as such an 
accession to a group would displace some of those previously employed, 
pushing thera upon the less favorable land, such competitive applications 
will be resisted to the utmost, and competition would be harassed. A de- 
velopment of a class distinction could not be avoided. 

The relation of social agreement to the distribution of the products of 
skill is totally different. An attempt to distribute by law the products of 
labor will discourage production, diminish happiness, aud reduce the power 
to resist adverse influences, enabling those people to survive in the strug- 
gle for existence who encourage production by protecting the producer in 
the peaceable enjoyment of the fruits of his labor, provided he pays the 
value of that protection. Egoist. 

I cannot excuse Egoist, for several years a subscriber for 
Liberty., when he requires me to answer for the thousand-and- 
first time the questions which he puts to me in his opening 
paragraph. It has been stated and restated in these columns, 
until I have grown weary of the reiteration, that voluntary as- 
sociation for the purpose of preventing transgression of equal 
liberty will be perfectly in keeping with Anarchism, and will 
probably exist under Anarchism until it " costs more than it 
comes to "; that the provisions of such associations will be 


executed by such agents as it may select in accordance with 
such methods as it may prescribe, provided such methods do 
not themselves involve a transgression of the liberty of the in- 
nocent ; that such association will restrain only the criminal 
(meaning by criminal the transgressor of equal liberty) ; that 
non-membership and non-support of it is not a criminal act; 
but that such a course nevertheless deprives the non-member 
of any title to the benefits of the association, except such as 
come to him incidentally and unavoidably. It has also been 
repeatedly affirmed that, in proposing to abolish the State, 
the Anarchists expressly exclude from their definition of the 
State such associations as that just referred to, and that who- 
ever exclu